Nothing will surprise me anymore

What has the country come to?

A murder  case of a foreign lady linked to people in high places. An imigration record that allegedly gone misssing. A prominet blogger made a statutory declaration alleging that the wife of a top leader was present at a murder site when the murder was committed.

A sudden increase of fuel prices which empties the pocket of the people like no other event before.

 Two MPs from a governing coalition is supposed to move a vote of no confidence against the top leader of the country, but none turned out on the appointed date.

A judge alleged that he was asked to be subservient to the executive and forced to attend a boot camp. A royal commission  recommended that certain well known personalities including a former premier, a former top judge,  a minister as well as  a multibillionaire should be investigated further as to their roles in fixing the appointments and promotion of senior judges.

To top it all, an aide to an oppostion leader made a police report alleging that he was sodomised by the oppostion leader, who about 10 years ago was arrested for the same crime. Even an Ambassador of a foreign country was brought into the picture by alleged providing shelter for the oppostion leader who claimed that his life was in danger.

Sensational news after sensational news. What is next? I am now so immune to all the surprises that nothing will surprise me any more.

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Monorail, PORR and BN’s bye bye to Penang

Malaysiakini in a report“EPU: Penang monorail, Porr shelved” mentioned that:

Economic Planning Unit (EPU) of the Prime Minister’s Department today said that  the RM2 billion Penang Monorail and RM1.5 billion Penang Outer Ring Road have been shelved.

According to EPU director-general Dr Sulaiman Mahbob, projects that are not people-centred under the original Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) will be put on hold or deferred…………

…..Met later, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak said the deferment of the two Penang mega-projects was not a punishment on Penangites who voted in the opposition-led state government

Penang is a small island which is heavily populated and the population is increasing. Because of the poor transport system within the island, there have been a tremendous growth of  motor vehicles clogging the road system, resulting in degradation of living environment and quality of life. Penang Island is badly in need of a good public transport system such as the monorail. To shelve it citing that this is not a people-centric project is like telling people that ‘chalk is black and charcoal is white’.

Monorail and PORR are projects that are desperately needed to improve traffic congestion and the mobility of the people , thereby improving the economic and investment climate of the Island. If these projects are not people centric, then I would like to ask what are the criteria to define whether a project is people centric? Does it mean that any project benefitting those who vote for opposition is not considered people centric?

Immediately after the General Election, I wrote a post ‘Do not punish the people and play with fire’ asking the government not to punish the people by withholding the projects. Later, when the leaders threatened to scrape the second Bridge project, I worte  another post ‘From Penang Bridge to PKFZ”, and I quote from part of that post:

……I suggest that Penang people ask the government to let them know how much income tax and road tax are collected from Penang residents alone annually. If the project takes 5 years to complete, then what is the total tax paid over 5 years? Ask the government to take a portion say 10 percent of these taxes to build . If government refuses, take the government to court as a first step. There would be more drastic steps, but first step first.

Another way is to ask those involved in the PKFZ thing to foot the bill for the second bridge. Afterall, the whole cost of the second bridge is smaller than the amount involved in the fiasco.

Penang people, with a higher income and more affluent than the national average , pay more taxes than many other states. I would like to ask the Finance Minister to reveal how much Penang people contribute by way of tax to the national coffer, and how much of this contribution were actually spent on Penang itself?

Now, by shelving the Monorail and PORR projects, Penang people will doubtlessly suffer. There will be more traffic congestion and environmental pollution as well as more time consumed in travelling from one place to another. Quality of life will deteriorate, no doubt.

But as a former Penangite, with still a wide network of classmates, friends and relatives in Penang, I can tell you that Penang people will be more determined to vote against BN and UMNO, and they will be more determined to vote the BN out of Federal government the next round. Do not forget, Penangites’ influences are not confined to Penang itself. There are many former Penangites residing in KL and other Urban centres in West Malaysia. These people will never vote BN again and would campaign hard to convince others to change the Federal government.

Parti Gerakan, with its home base in Penang, will be hard hit by this, if they still cling on to UMNO and BN. Many Gerakan leaders thought this election is a fluke and people would vote them back again. With this announcement, Gerakan can say goodbye to recapturing the State.

PORR, courtesy of Malaysiakini.

 

A lesson from the Past

Emperor Qin SHi Huang,  sometimes known as SHih Huang Ti in English history books, was the person credited with conquering all the small nation states of China during the Zhan Guo era ( the Era of the Warring States), and by doing so, he unified the whole of China, and standardised the written Chinese Language. He was also credited with the building of the GReat Wall, albeit at a huge human as well as financial cost.

Qin Shi Huang.

Although he was the first emperor of Qin Dynasty and a unified CHina, he was a controversial figure, tyrannical, autocratic; and he had a hatred against the intellectual class, probably because he was afraid that this class of people would speak out and create trouble for his great dynasty. He wanted his dynasty to last forever and as a result,  one of his worse acts was to bury hundreds of thousands of scholars alive and burning all Confucian texts that could be found. His court was full of manupulative people, hungry and greedy for power with one common attribute; they  would do anything to please this tyrannical emperor.

After Qin SHi Huang died, the chief Eunuch, Zhao Gao, forged the emperor’s will and together with the Prime Minister  Li Si, made the 18th Child  the new emperor, and forced the Crown Prince Fusu to commit suicide.

 The new emperor, known as Er Shi, was only in his teens. As he was young and owed his power to the eunuch Zhao Gao, the latter became all powerful and his wickedness and cruelty caused unrest and hardship in the whole of China. This resulted in revolts all over country, and finally,  just 4 years after the death of Qin SHi Huang, Er SHi was killed by Zhao Gao,  when one of the rebellious armies was approaching the capital. Soon the dynasty was overthrown and Liu Bang , the rebel leader, founded the Han dynasty.

One story had it that Zhao Gao once dragged a deer into the Courts of the Qin Dynasty and said to all those present that it was a horse. He then asked the emperor   what he thought it was. The emperor meekly replied that it was a horse. Then Zhao Gao proceeded to ask one by one, the whole courtful of officials present, their opinion.  None except one dared to refuted his claims that the particular animal was a horse. The only dissenting voice telling the truth that it could not be a horse since it was clearly a deer, was executed on the spot… So much for telling the truth.

History is a mirror for us to learn the mistakes of the past, so that we do not commit the same mistakes again. Does the above story sound familair? Can you see the similarities with the present era?

The Great Wall is certainly much more useful than the many Mega Projects that we have, but a similarity is that both were built at huge financial costs, and at the expense of the people.. Whereas the Great Wall protected China for many centuries against the Barbarians of the North  (and for that QIn SHi Huang was certainly many class above our “Great” leader) ,  what did Sepang Formula one track do? What did we derive from the majestic city of Putrajaya? A Minister’s office in Putrajayais is as big and much  grander than a lobby of a five Star hotel ..and there are so many ministers…   What is the use of having such majestic big office? It only serves to boost the ego of the souls occupying the office to sky height, and make them out of touch with reality and the common people.

I have the fortune once (or misfortune, depending on how you view it) to visit, together with some friends,  a deputy MInister in Putrajaya and he invited us to see his rest room. Wow… it was even bigger than an average bedroom of a standard  linked house in PJ. Why they need such a big room for their ‘johns’ I really cannot comprehend…Leaders have bigger size, perhaps? If you ask my expert opinion, I can tell you, “size” does not matter… 🙂

The story of calling a deer a horse speaks much about the sycophancy of the Qin Court. What about us? Do we not have the same sycophants singing every time the Great Leader uttered something? Black can be white, deer can be horse, as long as a person is in the good book of the Leader… To these people, life is too short to think about the future of the country or the future of their children. Once the Great Leader abdicates, the sycophants change their tunes, singing along this time with the new leader….They will tell you that conscience is something  you leave outside when you enter the corridor of power.

The burying of intellectuals and burning the books and texts during Qin Dynasty are akin to the clampdown on the freedom of expression and the media spin. The fear of a great emperor is always that his legacy may not last. The dangerous ones are the intellectuals, shut their mouth and his legacy can last forever…. So many a ruler, who wants his legacy to last forever, resorts to killing or maiming the intellectual class. But history teaches us that this has never been the case. Tyranny always falls. In Qin’s case, it took only 4 years (4 years is really a short time, because travelling from  South China to North in those days took months).

I write this lengthy piece of history to stress one point, and I hope the power that be can see this point. History has taught us that no matter how much you clamp down,  truth ultimately prevails. Tyranny and bad policies almost always fail. If we have not seen it  , it is only because the day of reckoning  has not arrived, yet.

 I hope the Prime minister realises this and carries out his promised reform without anymore delay…. without fear or favour… And i hope all those who walk in the Corridor of power,  or those who aspire to walk there one day,  realise that ultimately, their names will be the only thing history records. Whether future history will look at them in a good or bad light, only they can decide. A good person will be remembered fondly for  thousands of years, a bad tyrant or a corrupt will always be cursed.  The choice is really in the hands of the person walking the corridor of power….A moment of Greed and False Glory in exchange of thousand years of curse, is it really worth?

 

Will we see the day?

In early 2007, I wrote this:

This is a common complaint that I hear day in and day out : that although the official growth rate for the third quarter is 5.8%, why are people still feeling that the economy is stagnant?

I am not an economist, but just use common sense and some elementary mathematics:

 

          growth rate : 5.8%

    inflation rate : 3.5 %

   actual growth is only = 5.8 -3.5 =2.3%

So the cake is expanding at a rate of 2.3%. But population growth rate is 1.8% meaning that there is now 1.8% more mouth to eat the cake.

So, if you take this arithmatical calculation,

 the cake has actually grown 2.3%-1.8% = 0.5% which is negligible.

cake.jpgmore people (1.8%) are eating this slowly expanding cake (5.8%) which also cost more now (3.5%) -(pic fr teenytinytur flickr.com)

Which is why you feel that although the growth figure is still good, you are not getting any benefits.

Just like if you earn 100 dollars a year and your increment is only $5.8, and things you spent on now costs $3.5 more, your actual increase is only $2.3. But your children now spends $1.8 more than last year, so you actually have  $0.5. more to spend than last year, a very negligible amount.

Coupled with that, you have life style changes. You spend more on handphone bills, internets bills, Astro bills, cafe bills and so on. So with this life style changes, your $0.5 increment is not going to cover this . You therefore feel that your saving rate has gone down and you have less money to use.

The above scenario was when the growth rate was 5.8% and the inflation is estimated to be 3.5%. And that was in early 2007. Most people then were already cutting down on expenses. Now, just replace the above figure with these: inflation rate of 8-10%, growth rate of 5% and population growth of 1.8%. With these figures, it means that the actual growth is in the minus territory.  Many businesses will face bankruptcy and closure and many people will become unemployed.

So what have you? We have a scenario that everyone is feeling the pinch, except the very rich or the very top. The very rich will have plenty of reserve whereas the very top will have lots of allowances, so they have nothing to worry about. It is the common people that are struggling.

Well, people are actually very understanding . If they know the country is facing a crisis  and the leadership is good and have tried their best, the people will still stand behind the government even during the time of hardship. Like the Singaporeans did in 1965 when their country was expelled from Malaysia, the whole country stood behind LKY and his government. Like the British people during the second world war….

But when people are fed up because of so much of mismanagement, abuses, misuse of funds, corruptions, wastages and what have you… any economic hardship will not be well tolerated. People are not stupid, especially now with all the info they can gather from the net.

People do not mind the hardship, if the government can really repent , do away with the corrupt culture, the culture of patronage, the culture of commission and middle man, the culture of abuses, the culture of self enrichment, the culture of selective prosecution, the culture of what have you………….

Will we see that day?

 

 

 

Dr M’s record

I would like to post a letter to the NST which was published in the NST online today. It is about Dr M’s record over the 22 years of his rule. The writer has written what many of us feel.

Mahathir’s record: More negatives than positives

By : NORAMTAZ ABDULLAH, Petaling Jaya

 

I REFER to P.C.A. Lee’s letter on Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s record (“Good, bad or plain ugly?– NST, June 18).

To me, the Petronas Twin Towers, the Sepang F1 Circuit, Kuala Lumpur International Airport and the tolled highways are not projects coming out of brilliant ideas or initiatives. These can only come from those who think and behave as if the country’s resources are unlimited and that “money is no problem”.

It was during his administration that another “brilliant” idea was mooted which thankfully did not materialise: to build a bridge linking Malaysia and Sumatra. Just imagine the consequence to the country’s financial resources and the ballooning budget deficits had the project proceeded.

His yearning for mega projects was indeed insatiable, especially when these become synonymous with his name. He wanted to create his own history, especially for the young generation. After all, those who were born at the time Dr Mahathir became prime minister were adults when he retired.

This generation knows only him as prime minister and this is the memory he wants to perpetuate, even to the extent of dismantling parts of the historical past.
Remember Merdeka Stadium, which was on the verge of being demolished to make way for a commercial project? Had it not been for the public outcry, we would have lost this historical place where our first prime minister read the proclamation of our independence.

The availability of oil money and Petronas under his control had no doubt become the driving force behind his thirst for mega projects, including the heavy industry, as well as for bailing out public and private companies from the fallout of the 1997/1998 Asian financial crisis.

The national car project was developed at high social cost to the country and people, when it could have been done differently and at a lower cost and yet still meet our national objectives and aspirations.

Just look at what Thailand did to its automotive industry, which is robust and competitive compared with ours. And we were ahead of Thailand at one time. Perwaja is another disaster that has to be salvaged.

Is the Formula One circuit financially viable and self-financing or still dependent upon the continuing injection of public money or Petronas money?

What did the country get substantively out of the Twin Towers apart from having the tallest building in the world, though not any more now? Was the Twin Towers fully occupied upon completion?

Did our construction industry or contractors gain any technological mileage in terms of expertise and skills when we engaged foreign labour for its construction?

I tried to list down his positive contributions to the country, especially to the ordinary citizens who may remember him in their hearts for a long time. We are not talking of the few hundred families or individuals who were direct beneficiaries of his 23-year administration through negotiated contracts, privatisation deals, business monopolies, exclusive supplies and services, but the millions of ordinary low-income and poor people in the rural and urban areas throughout the country.

Frankly, not much can be documented for their direct well-being and welfare, except the widening disparity of incomes among the major races and within a race and between urban and rural areas during his administration. The gap between the rich and poor is widening.

I only see more and more negatives than positives, as enumerated by P.C.A. Lee, like the thriving corruption, the erosion of public confidence in the judiciary, racial polarisation, wastage of public funds, substandard buildings, schools, roads implemented through direct negotiations and consequently abandoned, but later salvaged by the new administration at tremendous cost to the nation.

To add to the list of negatives is the declining respect for our laws because “you can do wrong things for the right reason”. Or you can be spared of your wrongdoings before the law if you can tell the judges what to do. Anything is possible at the right price.

The explosion in the number of awards for honorific titles among Malaysians happened during his premiership, so much so that cynical remarks were made by everyone that if someone throws a stone on the street or at any public function, the chances are that you would hit a Datuk, Datuk Seri or Tan Sri.

The scramble for such titles became paramount, as they provide tremendous mileage in terms of securing preferential treatment of sorts and access to the corridors of power, all which adds a new dimension to Malaysian culture and way of life.

However, we must be fair to Dr Mahathir. Let us hope as time goes on, more and more of his good deeds and not his misdeeds will be revealed. As the saying goes, elephants leave behind their tusks and the tigers their stripes when they die. Human beings leave behind their names.

A road of no return

I would like to quote one of the comments on my last post “investigate who is telling the truth”. This comment was written by romerz, and was really thought provoking. I quote romerz:

You just have to take a look at the SAPP case. 1 day after Yong Teck Lee makes his stand against the PM, ACA starts investigations against him for corruption which allegedly occurred in 1996.

2 possible scenarios here.

1. YTL is innocent but the government machinery of ACA is used to intimidate him to toe the line.

2. YTL is guilty which means that he has been protected since 1996 by ‘top ranking’ leaders in the BN from any investigations until now when he broke ranks.

Both scenarios stinks!

Which brings me to another question on why the other component parties of BN are ‘obedient’ to big brother?

Are all the leaders of these parties corrupt too and the PM has files on them just waiting to be unleashed should any one of them break ranks?

 

I have often heard of leaders having files on their subordinates…. Was skeptical but Yong Teck Lee’s case is a real eye opener. The moment he turned against PM, he was investigated by ACA. I do not know whether  this is just coincidence or something else. I leave it to you readers to judge for yourself whether this is a case  of killing the chicken to warn the monkeys ( lest other parties may follow suit).

Maybe with files on them, those people who would like to follow suit  will have to think twice.

if one wants to have total control of one’s destiny in politics, never commit any wrongs, and never be tempted by offers of positions or money in return to do something unlawful for the leaders..A single misstep may result in going into a road of no-return….

Corrupt leaders often like to have their subordinates or supporters “wet their hair”, meaning that they would encourage their followers to commit certain misdeed, so that they could have a hold on these people. It is like putting a leash around their necks, and once there is a leash, it will be so much easier to control these people. A dog with a leash on its neck is a tame dog; whereas a dog without leash can be uncontrollable.

These things happen not only in Malaysia; even in US, there was rumours that a former FBI director had files on senior politicians, including the president!!

Just like Mafia or other secret societies, the initiation process of a new member often involves committing a serious crime, so that this new member would not be able to turn back on the road of no return…

SO in politics, a person needs to have integrity and conscience . If he has this quality,  then even if the power that be wants to open files on him, it will not be easy. This person would not be subjected to having a leash around his neck, and he can at least be his own master and decide his own direction and destiny in politics.

Therefore, my advice to the young people who would like to join politics is to  make sure you are guided by your conscience in whatever you do. That way, at least you can be your own master and in charge of your own destiny..

Investigate who is telling the truth ?

A  Statutory Declaration of War  was made by none other than the blogger of the popular site “Malaysia-today”, RPK. Many bloggers have already posted the SD on their blogs, so I won’t post it here again.  For those who would like to view the whole declaration, they can go to either Malaysiakini  or Malaysia-today.

It is an offense to make a false SD. By making this declaration, RPK has to prove that he has the evidence or he will be liable to be prosecuted.

DPM and his wife have denied any link to the murdered Mongolian. So someone must be telling the truth and someone must be lying.

As this case involves the integrity of the our judiciary as well as our police investigators, the PM must leave no stone unturned. Find out who is telling the truth and prosecute against the other side. The govenrment has always touted our police force is efficient and our judiciary independent, this is the best time to prove to the whole world that this is really so. By doing so, and acting without favouring any side, the PM can prove to the whole world that he is really a leader that is worthy of Malaysians’ continued support. On the other hand, any perceived cover-up will tarnish the name of the country and the credibility of the whole national leadership . 

 

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