Stand up and take charge

I applaud the 25 prominent Malay dignitaries who came forward to preach moderation for Malaysia.

Today, I read that another 33 Malaysians from different ethnic groups have come forward to voice their concern about the extremist views that have been uttered by various rightist groups.

The country as I see it is facing certain hurdles in its journey towards a developed nation.

The most obvious and dangerous one is of course extremist views have gone largely unchecked, and the perception is UMNO has turned more and more to the right and this does not herald well for the party and the country.

Another hurdle is the slowing economy and rising inflation, but this will not be discussed here at the moment.

So the brave 25 prominent Malays who started the ball rolling must be given credit for voicing out the views of many. Even though they have the comfort in numbers, this is still an act of courage to stand up and urge the country to go back to its roots and Federal Constitution.

The ball is now in the court of the Prime Minister. He has often preached moderation, especially in overseas forum. The position of PM is a very powerful one. He should start exerting himself if he really believe in what he preaches. Please read this old post of mine “Please walk the talk’.

Without PM exerting leadership and taking control and clamping down on the extremist views, whatever is uttered by these prominent Malaysians will not have much effect.

It is up to the PM to act decisively. His about turn in Sedition Act shows the amount of pressure he is under, especially when many of the UMNO’s delegates have turned rightist.  The latter is the results of leadership not showing a firm direction for party members. When there is a vacuum, little wonders that   many big wits including the Old Horse start to lead the way. The result:  the party is now what it is now

His office is powerful. He can overcome the obstacles if he starts exerting his power now. Leader must not be follower of trends. A good leader must be able to buck the trend and turn opinion around.

I am hoping  that PM will start doing that, and walk his talk. The country needs that. As i see it, he is the only one AT THE MOMENT with the stature and power  to stand up and clamp down on the extremists, and only with him doing that, the country can go back to its moderate way again.

 

A step backward

Many of us are disappointed with the about turn in retaining the Sedition Act. Many have written about  this flip flop in the various online media, and many conclusions are made. I have written many times in the past about the need to abolish this Act, and I am not going to write on that again since so many voices have already done so  following the flip-flop.

I shall just attempt to put forward my two cents worth of opinion  about the politics that may have to do with this about turn.

We can draw a few inference from this about turn:

1. PM, the alleged reformer,  has decided put his own position above the reforms that he would like to implement.

2. The reason why he needs to do so  is that he is not as strong as we thought.  All along we  know that he is not in full control of the party, with even the Old Horse openly declared that he was withdrawing his support. The Old HOrse is a wily old man, and he must have evaluated carefully about the strength of PM and his own support before doing so. The Old Horse has not done a “Pah Lah” to PM yet. This is more to do with the fact that there is no viable candidate to succeed PM at the moment. But the scenario could change in a few years’s time when his son builds up support and is ready to take over the helm.

3. A few years ago, when Perkasa first came to light, I have written an article in Malaysiakini titled : ” the ascendency of right wing politics”. I will paraphrase  a paragraph from this article here:

” Recent events have showed that right-wing politics is on the rise and the ascendancy of these right-wingers do not bode well for the country. The country is on the road to extreme racist politics if these right-wingers have their way. The road that these right-wingers advocate is a direct opposite of the ‘1Malaysia’ concept which was introduced by none other than the prime minister himself.”

That was written in 2010 and events have proven me correct. These right wing NGOs have succeeded to implants false ‘seeds’ in the minds of many rural people, and as the saying goes, if a lie is told a hundred times, people will tend to believe. These right wing organisations have succeeded in playing up the fears and insecurity of many people, and thus have influenced many of the delegates of UMNO. UMNO is now much more right wing than before, because many of the warlords thought by adopting a more right wing approach, they can probably change the tide and gain more grounds, and thus ensure their own survival.

Seeing the tide is building against the abolition of the Act within the party, it is either doing the about turn or risk losing support in the assembly.  PM chose the former course. In doing so he is taking a step back. Will this step back results in 2 steps forward later, 0nly time will tell.

4. the failure to inform other component parties before the about-turn says much about the complete marginalisation of these parties.  The quickness of all component parties in coming to terms with this about-turn, even though many in the past favoured abolition of the Act, show the pitiful state of these parties now. One wonders why they are still in the Front; they are no longer able to influence any big decisions.

A wake up call for Pakatan

In early May, I was invited to give a talk to the Nanyang University Alumni Association in Section 13, Petaling Jaya.

During the Q and A session, the chairman of the session as well as the president of the association asked for my  view on the 2 oncoming by elections , the one in Bukit Gelugor and Teluk Intan.

I ventured to say that it would be an easy walk for DAP in Bukit Gelugor, and I saw the audience all nodding their heads in agreement.

But when I opined that in Teluk Intan, Parti Gerakan stands a good chance of winning if Dato Mah is the candidate, I saw many skeptical looks among the audience.

Some in the audience spoke out against my opinion, saying that DAP had won the seat by a handsome margin just one year ago, and that the Chinese votes would still very much be with DAP.

I explained that in my analysis, DAP’s s Chinese support at 85% last year was already the maximum any party can hope to achieve. When you have reached the maximum, logic would have it that the support level can only either be maintained or be lower.In a by election, since it does not involve tilting  the balance of power, it would be likely to be the latter.

I told the audience that this is especially so because in those PR administered states, there is nothing really spectacular, nothing  to shout about so to speak.

In Selangor, the power struggle in PKR reminds people of UMNO politics and the KIdEX Highway put many intellectuals off. Though Teluk Intan is far away, many of its voters actually reside in Klang Valley and  these people would be showing disinterest( as well as influencing folks at home)  to go back to vote once they perceive that PR is not really that much of a  better alternative.  By approving  the Kidex HIghway, the MB was deemed to be arrogant and went against the manifesto of his own party.

So i expected the Chinese support to decrease, and to counter this, DAP would have to bang on an increase in Malay support that must be sizeable enough to counter the loss of  Chinese support. In this, I don’t see how they can do so. (AT that time , DAP has not announced the candidacy of a young Malays woman; later when the party made its choice,  I thought it was a brilliant strategy by the part of the Senior Lim of DAP, to counter the expected loss of Chinese votes but it was still not enough).

The hudud issue also put many people off. In this, DAP truly misses the presence of the late Karpal SIngh. With Karpal SIngh died an untimely death, many are of the opinion that DAP does not have another one with the stature to stand up to PAS in the hudud issue. The hudud issue glaringly shows that it was a case of “sleeping in the same bed but having different dreams”, as the Chinese proverb goes, and it has helped to reduce Chinese support for DAP, but at the same time did not do much to win Malay support for Pakatan.

Then I mentioned too that Mah, the likely candidate for BN, would be an asset. He is well known in the constituency, being a very hard working MP for 2 terms, and by virtual of being the president of Gerakan, a win for him would certainly mean a cabinet position of some sort, which would help bring development to Teluk Intan.

So all in all, at that session of talk, I thought Mah would have a very good chance to win.

I was proven right.

SO what does it mean in the politics of Malaysia? FIrstly, the win would be a morale booster for Parti Gerakan; a loss would have put another nail in the coffin, but a win would be like an adrenaline jab in an ailing heart, it would strengthen the party to a certain extent.

In the bigger context, PR would have to review its strategy and perhaps relook at the policies in states under its administration. Even in Penang, there are starting to have some voices expressing disilusionment with the administration. The coalition has gone through 2 GEs, but yet it still cannot function as a cohesive unit.  PR campaigned on the promise of Change, but how much change are we seeing ?  Many of the  things that PR used to criticise BN, like  changing new state luxury cars and overseas travel, some of its leaders are doing as well…

Teluk Intan should be taken as a wake up call to DAP in particular and PR in general. No party is invincible in politics. If it cannot deliver what it has promised, then after one or two terms, people will get disillusioned and vote the other way.

That is the essence of the pendulum theory.

One year after

One year and three days after the last General election, the fledging two party system has not really resulted any radical changes to make life easier or better for ordinary folks like you and me.

Instead, the country is now more divided and more polarised than before.

The latest by an extremist group that Chinese Malaysians are penceroboh is just one of the unending extremist statements made over the past one year. Maybe this person is emboldened by the lack of official action towards Perkasa, the president of which has time and again uttered extremist views and got away with it.

This time, if nothing is done, it will set a dangerous trend and more extremists would surface and utter dangerous views.

All these NGOs i suspect are outsourced organisation from the Big Brother and their existence and the public utterance of such views are part and parcel of an effort to consolidate rural support by the BIg Brother.  I say rural because I still believe that the Tsunami of 505 is not a Chinese Tsunami but rather an urban tsunami ( see my post Mathematically not a CHinese tsunami).

After the last election, I think Big Brother has given up on gaining back urban support. Their strategists have also realised that even without urban support, they can bank on rural  votes to carry them through.

This is further strengthened by the fact that the existence of Perkasa after 308, has really helped to frighten rural people into voting for Big Brother during 505.

Whether we like it or not, the presence of this organisation, which can say many things that the Big Brother cannot officially say  ( that is what the outsourcing is about), has really helped to consolidated rural support for Big Brother.

However, playing up racial sentiments by uttering such extremist views are dangerous. We must realise that a small spark can lead to fire. The future of the country is too precious for this to happen.

………………

There is not much to shout either in those states that are administered by the Opposition.

Just take an example. There is this project called KIDEX (Kinrara Damansara Expressway) highway which is supposed to connect Damansara and Kinrara. It is a federal project and the highway is going to be a tolled highway.

I have always thought that PR is opposed to tolled highway since it was in their manifesto. So I was so surprised that the Selangor government has  given its approval for the acquisition of lands affected.

However good the project maybe, it is actually a matter of principle that since in the manifesto, PR is against tolled highway, it should not have agreed to Kidex.

It will give an impression that all politicians are the same, no matter which side they are. If this clause of manifesto can be selectively ignored, then we can expect other parts of their manifesto, such as equality and so on, to be promises that can be broken as well.

 

 

 

 

Hopelessness and Helplessness

Many people are unhappy.

These people don’t care much about politics. They don’t care much about religious issues. They don’t care about the ‘agreement’ between Liow And Chua in the election of MCA (if posts can be agreed upon, why the need for election?). They don’t care about why no action is taken on the case of a deputy minister being hit by a third tier leader of the Big Brother. They have gone immune to these happenings in the Bolehland.

They are unhappy because they feel helpless and hopeless.

After the last General Election, I can feel a prevailing sense of helplessness and hopelessness especially among  those who live in the urban areas.

While they go about their daily activities, most things have become more and more expensive. It is no longer a case of tightening belts. It is now about survival.. This is especially true for those with young children.Many of the young parents with young children are finding it hard to make ends meet. A tin of infant formulae now is more than RM100. And that is considered essential item for a growing infant. A family income of 4000 is no longer enough to live in the cities.

This is no longer about not being able to afford a house. There is now despair that soon, many of them who are renting houses will not be able to afford to have a roof over their heads; they may not have enough to pay for the rentals.  Many of them who work and who used to eating lunch outside is now eating bread and water for their lunch.

They are feeling helpless because they see no light at the end of the tunnel. Even when most of them voted for change, there is no change for the better; there are changes but all these changes make things more and more expensive and there is now less and less money in the pockets.

They are feeling hopeless because apparently these changes are just the beginning. When GSt is implemented next year, things will become worse.

They see ministers and top civil servants travel and move in luxury while they have to cut back on everything.  But they cannot hope for any changes in the short terms since another GE will be 4 years away.

They look at opposition run states and there is not much to shout about too. So even if next election comes and they vote for change, will change be around? They have lost hope. A opposition CM has just bought a new Merz. What difference is he from other politicians? In another state, internal politics are so intense and there might be a change in MB..

Is there any solution to this? Sorry, I don’t not actually see any. Not with the current batch of ‘managers’. There is no more leadership around. The so-called leaders up there  have really lost touch with the common people and the needs of the rakyat.

My advice is only this: Live from day to day!

UP

up(Inflation is like inflated balloons. What will happened if the balloons burst…)

Came back recently from a trip to US, where I spent quite a long holiday there, visiting afew cities during my stay.

After coming back, I went to my favourite coffee shop in Paramount Garden for breakfast last Sunday. Wow, a plate of fried kway Teow has gone up 10% from RM 5 to RM5.50.

Went to one of my favourite cafe and a plate of nasi lemak has gone up a few dollars. Nasi Bojadi is now over 20 ringgits. WithRM 50, you can now buy so little even in  a hypermarket!!

what has happened?

Reading the newspapers, it seems like traders and hawkers are to be faulted since there are so many photos of enforcement officers visiting markets and checking on prices. Is it really due to profiteering by all these small traders?

Prices have generally gone up. I do not have any business but by running a clinic, I too know how much medicine costs have gone up. Paracetamol , the cheapest of all drugs, is now more than 3 times more costly than just 5 years ago. Running nose medication , especially those with vaso-constrictor drug pseudoephedrine, has gone up 8 times. The latter is because of an artificial shortage caused by the Ministry restricting the import. The reason given is there are people using pseudoephedrine to make other more sinister drugs that are commonly used by patrons of night clubs and so on.

Tranquilizers have gone up more than 10 times, and are unavailable most of the time. Again because of certain restriction by government authority to reduce its import. But there are many patients with psychosomatic symptoms that require such medication to tie than over. So these genuine patients have to folk out ten times more than the usual price to get their medication.

The last few years also see a general hike in all the drugs, be it generic or originals, but not to the extent of the drugs mentioned above. Instead of causing an artificial shortages, the government should target those who manufacture sinister drugs and those who misuse it in the night clubs and so on, instead of making the genuine patients pay for the huge increase.

Then, outside the medical fields, almost everything has gone up in prices. This is not so much due to profiteering , but due to increase in overhead.

After the 505 GE, price of petrol has gone up. This translate to an increase in transportation cost.

Electricity tariff has gone up.

Property prices and thus renta rate has gone up. Assessment in KL has gone up and this translate again to an increase in rental. Those with foreign workers have to pay RM110 more because of the i-kad. The weakening Ringgit has also caused imported goods to be more expensive.

All these resulted in an increase cost n doing business. Not so much profiteering.

So instead of asking enforcement to go down to markets to check prices, government  leaders should ask themselves, what have they done ?

Malaysia is a rich country. Why are we having deficits years after years? Why do we need such a big civil service workforce? Why do we need so many ministers? why the need to have lavish  functions whenever a minister needs to hold a meeting or so on?

Why are there so rampant corruptions and wastage? Just look at the Auditor-General’s annual reports.

If all these can be tackled, do we need to spend so much on subsidies?

All the photos of officers checking on prices are more for political reasons and rural consumption. BUt if the leaders really care, they should postpone GST, cut down on wastage, and lower electricity and toll charges.

Reducing subsidies do not really need to raise tariff or taxes. It can be done by more prudent spending and more belt tightening by the government.

Cousumer ‘Kangkung’ Index

Prime Ministers and presidents are wise people.

If they are not, they would not have survived and excelled  in the world of politics  that is more savage than the most primitive jungle. To rise to their positions, they must have endured obstacles and booby traps of all kinds. That of course requires utmost cleverness and wisdom.

As wise men, what they say and do are often wise words and deeds that we ordinary souls should just listen and follow.

So when our Prime Minister recently mentioned about the prices of kangkung going down, he should not be criticised.

Maybe what he meant is that the prices of kangkung can be used as a replacement for CPI.

So many ordinary folks have criticised that CPI is not really a good reflector of inflation. People laugh when told that CPI is only 2% or so. They laugh because the price of their roti canai or Wantan Mee have gone up faster than what the CPI depicts. So maybe CPI is not such a good indicator and should be replaced by a more accurate measure..

Maybe we should use the price of kangkung as a measure of the inflation rate. Call it Consumer Kangkung Index, CKI. Just like globally, people are using Big Mac as a comparison of living costs of different regions.

The price of kangkung is determined by many factors. You have to factor in the rentals of the vegetables sellers, the wholesalers and the farmers. You have to factor in the  transportation costs which are influenced by the petrol and toll prices. You have to factor in the fertiliser cost which requires electricity in their production.

On top of that,  most premises and machinery require water and electricity to run.  You have to factor in the minimal wages, because the farmers, the wholesales and even the vegetables sellers employ people to help run their businesses. Most probably they are foreign workers , since we Malaysians are said to be not keen to take up these jobs.

So, you see, the price of kangkung depends on so many factors, it is indeed a good measure of the inflation rate.

And prices of kangkung are said to have dropped. This coming from a wise person and this is indeed wise word.

This despite the increase in electricity tariffs, the increase in petrol prices, the increase in tolls charges, the increase in rentals caused by a sharp rise in property prices, not to mention the RM 110 per head of foreign workers for i-kad.

So it is indeed good news that despite the increase of so many factors that influence cost of livings, the price of kangkung has dropped.

Our government policy must be right. We ordinary folks may not know how, but the wise men up there , they must have a way to tackle inflation that we dont know. Perhaps it is due to the effects of BR1M.

We should not question the wise words of our leaders. We should just accept it that kangkung price has dropped and that shows that there is really no inflation.

The only thing that puzzles most of us  is that  despite the low kangkung price, we have no more money in our pocket to buy it for dinner!

Maybe we should listen to the wise words of Marie Antoinette, if we don’t have bread to eat, why not eat cakes?

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