M n N in divorce court ?

Yesterday, Asia sentinel published an article which i think Malaysians should read. I am going to post part of the article here, for the full article , click the link below:

Mahathir and Najib in Divorce Court

The honeymoon between Malaysia’s new prime minister, Najib Tun Razak, and the irascible 84-year-old Mahathir Mohamad, who played a major role in driving Najib’s predecessor from office, is over almost before it began.

Najib, gambling that the former premier’s influence is waning within the ranks of the United Malays National Organisation, has broken decisively over a number of hot-button issues with Mahathir, who held office for 22 years before stepping down in 2003 in favor of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Many of them involve a cozier relationship with the Singapore government, with which Mahathir carried on a rocky relationship.

So far, Mahathir, although said to be privately furious with Najib, has held back from attacking him publicly.

Read more click here

(PS: I just hope that M can let someone run the country without too much of an interference. He has run the country for 22 years… enough lah!)

“50 steps laughing at hundred”

During the era of the Warring States in CHina, about 2500 years ago, there was this story told by Mencius to one of the head of the Warring States.

This head of a small state called Liang (later Wei), liked to laugh at other warring states for taxing their citizens and then engage in battles against each other. HOwever, Liang State was also involved in some of these battles , even though it was on a smaller scale.

Mencius told this Head of State the story:

 Once, there were 2 soldiers, running away from fighting at the battle front. One had started running earlier than the other and had reached about 100 steps away from the battle front. The other who started slightly later, had only reached 50 steps away from the front.

The one who had escaped to 50 steps called to the one at 100 steps : You, coward and scary cat, why run so fast?.

The one at the hundred steps laughed: it does not matter how many steps we had run away from the battle, we are both the same, both cowards trying to get away from fighting.

Mencius was trying to tell this Head of Liang that he was being hypocritical to laugh at others when he himself was doing the same thing , albeilt to a smaller extent.

Thus came the Chinese Proverb: ” Fifty steps laughing at Hundred Steps”.

The moral of the story is that we sometimes laugh at people without realising that we are of the same kind, or we are making the same mistakes, even tough the mistakes may be smaller.

I brought up this story because a few days ago, I had a chat with a Gerakan  member who was laughing at PPP. He was laughing at how this party, from arespectable opposition party had become a laughing stock of the country, with the latest infighting between 2 factions.

I brought up this to tell the member that  soon, many of the component parties will be like that of the PPP, if nothing changes. ALready, in one of the component parties, infighting has occured in Penang, with one leader criticising another openly…

On the bigger scale, sometimes we tend to laugh at other countries for being supressive, corrupt and dictorial , we fail to realise that we are only slightly better.

The worse may be over

I have predicted some time back  that Malaysia would face a deep contraction of its economy, looking at the external markets and the contractions of other economies in the last quarter of last year.

As a Malaysian, I was hoping that I could be proven wrong and that the country would be resilient enough to go down just 1or 2% , like what the government has announced earlier on.

Unfortunately, I was right.

The official figure for the first quarter has been announced and it is a -6.2% contraction in the first quarter. I would expect the second quarter to be around that.  So far, we have not benefitted from the first stimulus package given out last year.

Looking at the other economies, and the trend of commodity prices ( Malaysia will benefit if commodities go up) ad consumer confidence (US Consumer confidence index hit 54%  for May, a big jump),, I think the worse is over for the world. Most of the advanced economies are starting to bottom out, and  since they have reached the bottom, there is only one way to go, and that is up. What is debatable is how fast will be the uptrend; in other words, how fast will be the recovery?And how long will they remain at the bottom?

Oil prices have gone up a bit to be past US60 per barrel now. When the developed economies of the world recover, the demand of oil will shoot up .

Will there be another round of escalating oil prices? If there is, then any recovery will be capped by this escalating oil prices, especailly if there is a perception that oil demand will exceed oil production. Speculative forces will push the oil prices up.

Malaysia should benefit from an oil surge, theoretically. But the last round , when oil prices went past US$140, the opposite happened when pump price was suddenly raised to RM 2.70. Almost everything went up. NO one in Malaysia (maybe with a few exceptions) really benefited from the surging oil price and that really puzzled my simple mind.

The trouble with these consumer product prices, they do not obey Newton’s laws. Normally what goes up should comes down. But prices of consumer products and food in Malaysia just like to defy Physics, and what have gone up  have remained high there, even when the country is now in recession.

 …………………………………………………………

Perhaps now is the time, for those who have cashed out earlier, to look at investment opportunities and invest cautiously.

In February , when Aussie dollar went below RM2.40, I did advise some of my friends to look at the opportunity, predicting that it would go up once commodities prices go up since you need Australian dollars to buy those commodities.  

If you have invested 10,000 Aussie dollar then in a foreign curency account  , you would have made a very handsome profit. Yesterday, It touched RM 2.80. You would have made a profit of Rm4000 in just 3 months on a less than Rm 24000 capital. (with some crumbs as interest, too).

There are many other investment opportunities. But be cautious. Use only spare money and make sure you have enough cash to cover any emergency use. 

 

Engage rather than isolate

While Malaysians are still arguing themselves hoarse in the legal courts as well as the Court of opinion regarding the Perak issue, a potentially dangerous threat is rising  on the other side of East Asia.

North Korea has undertaken another nuclear test, and this time, the device was enough to wipe off a city equal to that of Hiroshima.

With its missile capabilities, North Korea now has the potential power of destroying cities in South Korea, Japan and China.

This single act has raised the tension in the region, and US and its allies would be hard pressed to deal with this.

We really do not know much about North Korea. even less about the leadership. What we know is mainly from the reports from the West, and those reports might be biased. BUt what if those reports are true?

What if North Korea, with its economy in tatters, decided to sell some of its arsenals to terrorist groups? What if these terrorist group decided to unleash the device in US or Europe?

What if North Korea decides to use its nuclear device against its South, even though they are their own blood brothers? ( already North Korea has warned of military action against the South today ..read this report )

On the other hand, when China exploded its first  nuclear device in the 60s, was it not considered the pariah/danger of the world then? Only when the world made an effort to understand CHina with Nixon’s visit to China in the early 70s, that the world at large realised that CHina was not likely to invade others, and that under Deng Xiao Ping, the country would concentrate more on building its economy and improving the standard of living of its people , more than anything else.

What path will North Korea follow?

It may depend on whether the world is willing to sit down and talk with its leaders , rather than sanction and threat of military action.

Engagement is always better than isolation..

The court of perception

I have written many posts on Perak issue and have spoken in meetings and private to numerous people, that there is only one sensible and logical solution:  Go Back to the people. 

I base this on the basic democratic principle that the ultimate boss in a democracy is the people. Judiciary cannot solve this political impasse without being perceived as partisan by one group or the other.

What has made the matter worst in the eyes of the public is the tough stand taken by certain government institution in charge of enforcement which should by right be non-partisan.

The latest action that has shocked many people is the arrest of some participants in connection with a hunger strike in Ipoh. Even though the latest news had it that all had been released, I thought a little bit more discretion would have been more prudent.

Uder Federal  Constitution Artile 10 (1) , there are 3 clauses, namely:

  • (a) every citizen has the right to freedom of speech and expression;
  • (b) all citizens have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms;
  • (c) all citizens have the right to form associations.
  •  

    We must realise that the world is no longer like 20 or 30 years ago. Under the emergency ordinance, formulated during the time of the war against the communists half a century ago, any assembly more than 5 persons will be deemed illegal unless held with permission. This rule is long past its usefulness, and should have been abolished long long time ago.

    In the modern world, peaceful expression or picketing, without disrupting peace , should be allowed.

    We are not Myanmar.

    Despite all the imperfections, we are still a country ostensibly ruled by law. If that is the case , there should be more discretion in using the power to arrest and detain.  By all means, watch over them, but if anyone wishes to go on hunger strike and the strike is not harming his life, he should be allowed to do so as a form of expressing his dislike.

    Article 9 of the Universal declaration of Human Rights:

      No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile. 

    Our new administration under the new PM has wanted to win the war of perception. But to win the perception , you must win the hearts of the people, not by sending a signal that strong arm tactic will be used if you do not obey.

    The PM and his ministers can institute all the reforms they want but without respect to human rights and heeding the wish of the people in the case of Perak, all the efforts would come to  naught.

    Honour and shame

    I was saddened by the death of the former South Korean President, Roh Moo-hyun, two days ago, when he jumped from a hill near his home after leaving a suicide note.

    hillIt is from this hill that Mr Roh jumped

    This was reported in NYTimes:

    For both his supporters and detractors, his suicide served as a painful reminder of how difficult it remained to break the chain of graft in South Korean society……………………

    Roh killed himself a day before his wife, Kwon Yang-sook, was expected to be summoned for questioning for a second time.

    “He was driven to kill himself for taking some money from a long-time supporter, while those who robbed big businesses of truckloads of cash are still alive without shame,” said Choi Chul-kyu, a 48-year-old mourner holding a candle, referring to former conservative political leaders convicted of bribery.

    “How am I going to explain this to my children? How am I going to explain the fact that every president in this country has wanted to squash his predecessor?”

    But those who were close to Roh said the charges were especially painful because he had made his name as a “clean” politician, refusing to follow in the path of his predecessors; every former South Korean president since the 1980s has faced corruption accusations or gone to prison on such charges after his term was over.

    In recent weeks, Roh acknowledged that a little-known businessman who supported him had given more than US$6 million (RM20.94 million) to his wife and son and his brother’s son-in-law while he was in office, but he denied the payments were bribes. He said that he did not know about the transactions until he left office and that the money for his wife went to pay a debt.

     SOuth Korea has a tradition of graft , as in many Confucianist societies, since in these societies, bribes and ‘gifts’ are sometimes difficult to differentiate and many politicians have taken  advantage of this to be on the take. Many more are made of lesser moral stuff and become corrupted by the power given to them.

    Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely – this is indeed very true.

    The late Roh was acknowledged as one of the cleanest of SOuth Korean presidents. But after watching politics from the fringe, I am rather sceptical of the word ‘clean’. Too many ‘clean ‘ leaders have been seen to be on the take. And it really does not matter whether a person takes one dollar or one billion; to be on the take for small amount is as serious as those taking bigger sums.

    Nevertheless, in this case,  I do not  know the circumstances of the US 6 millions allegedly given to him, and whether this was ‘contribution’ allowed under the law or ‘gifts’ that can easily be interpreted as corruption.. Since i do not know the background of the money, I would not want to comment on the allegation of corruption against him.

    But one thing is for sure. He is the one who has the highest honour among all the past leaders of SOuth Korea who were investigated for corruption.

    In death, he has set an example of someone who was unable to face his name being blemished by corruption charges.  To take one’s own life for one’s action or inaction speaks much of his personality , and I respect him for that. He had at least one of the basic value of a human; that of being able to feel shameful…

    The recognition of “shame’ is also one of Confucianist culture. Such recognition of shame can be due to actual mistake one made , or even to a perceived mistake, even when the perceived mistake was not a mistake.

    Remember those  Japanese committing HaraKiri to protect one’s honour and name, sometimes over just a matter of principle?

    Roh’s death will not be in vain, whether he was guilty or not. It will have an impact.

    Any future South Korean leader wishing to take any gifts or money would probably think twice . IT would serve as a powerful deterrent in a country already changing towards better transparency and accountability .

    I am quite confident, that South Korea will follow the footsteps of Hong Kong and Singapore to become a very clean society, given the many examples of past presidents being investigated and jailed.

    Looking back at our country, we cannot say the same about some of our leaders. Many of those who are openly corrupt are so proud of their act that not only they do not resign, they aspire to go higher.

    Some who have been found guilty inside their own party of corrupt practices can still hold on to high positions, in government as well as party hierarchy.

    Not only there is no honour, there is no more feeling of shame.

    To these people, even corruption can be glorious.  With this type of culture, how are we going to achieve a clean, transparent and accountable society?

    ANOTHER BY ELECTION

    Even though the saying “man proposes God disposes” may sound fatalistic, leaving everything to fate, all of us may have one time or another come across events that can be best described by this phrase.

    Sometimes, no matter how much we try to avoid certain things, they still happen.

    BN has decided not to contest the Penanti by election, which in my view is the right decision . Why fight a battle which you are  sure to lose?

    But somehow fate has a funny way of doing thing.

    This time an existing State Assemblyman has passed away in Kelantan, paving the way for yet another by election.

    This time UMNO will have no choice but to contest this by election, since this by election is due to natural forces and not ‘man made factor”.

    Given the sentiments of the people , UMNO will have a hard time trying to fight this by election.

    Another defeat will be bad for UMNO….as well as BN.

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