Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri

To all Muslim friends, Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri

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As clear as crystal!

Many government  leaders often asked why the urban crowds have not given them the support since 308.

The reason is very simple. Just look at the MRT land acquisition ordeal the last few days, and they should know what is wrong.

Many a time, and I have lost count, when there is a project, it is not meant for the people, it is meant for the interests of some parties.

In fact, a former parliamentary secretary who is now helping a opposition-ruled state , has told me before he quit BN that it has become a culture that the planning and conceiving of project is not for the interest of the people, but rather how to let certain parties benefit  from this.

“If there is no project, there is no way to ‘masuk’ ” and this has become the mentality.

Coming back to the MRT project, it is now becoming crystal clear that it has intended to use land acquisition of some of the golden plots in the city to fund the building of MRT, and with this funding, there will definitely be leakages and wastage, and everybody would be happy..

The ‘land grab’, as coined by the opposition, also showed up glaringly how weak and how minor the component parties’ role has become.

let us take a hypothtical case. Let’s say we are now back to the 60s. If  Tun Tan Siew Sin goes to a government body and asks them to reconsider some project, it would be like an order and the order would have been considered and complied with.

Just the other day, BFM did an interview with Tun Sambathan’s daughter, in their run up of the series “the daughters of Merdeka”, the daughter mentioned that on one occasion, his father as a minister has to write a one-and-half page letter to Tun Tan requesting and explaining why he needed a fund of RM 175.00 as compensation to Tan Sri Khaw Kai Boh (another minister) , whose car  was knocked by a vehicle belonging to Tun Sambathan’s department.

This showed the integrity of the politicians at that time, even though we may not have agreed with many of these people’s (Tunku. TUN Tan,  TUN SAMbathan etc) policies, their integrity was beyond doubt.  Even Tun Razak had declined an allocation of RM70,000 to build a swimming pool at his residence, and asked that the money be spent in a more fruitful way.

So coming back to this topic. The head of a component party, a person involved in a sex scandal before, led a group of people affected and saw the head of SPAD, a former minister who is now in charge of the MRT project.. After the meeting, he happily announced that he has succeeded in helping the people of chinatown  secure their land holdings. He thought he could become a hero now, only to find out that he was more a ‘zero’ than hero.

The next moment, he was rebuked, and the former minister now in charge of SPAD announced that nothing has been decided yet.

This incident showed  glaringly the impotence of the component party. Even a Has Been of the Big Brother yields more power than a present head of a component party, one of whose member is the Minister of Transport, a position that supposedly oversees the SPAD.

So that is what is wrong with the whole BN. That is why the urban crowds do not give support to BN parties. How to fight a war when you are not even given bullets. How to move when you are not given the space..  This is exactly the point that I often told my leaders when I was a member of my former party. This is exactly why I asked them to pull out from the coalition and go back to their role as opposition.

When the big brother does not even give tiny space for the little brothers to breathe, how do you expect the little brothers to survive. .

We all know how difficult it is to buy a lot in Bukit Bintang.  Looking at newspaper advertisement, very rarely you see someone advertising to sell a shop in Bukit Bintang.

Most who own properties there can just sleep and shake legs, and live off the rentals collected, since rentals are very high there. No one in their right mind would sell their properties in BBintang, unless they emigrate, or lose heavily in Sentosa or the Sands.

So you see what I mean here.

So in one move, golden land right in the centre of the city (the equivalent of Time Square in Manhattan)  which is so difficult to buy can now be used in the name of development for certain interests.. that of  the funding of MRT and the likely accompaniment of  leakages and wastages.

Who cares if’ ‘Make Chinese Angry’ is shown to be so impotent even Viagra won’t help;  who cares if Little brothers all ‘die’ in the next election;  who cares if hundred years history and heritage is destroyed; who cares  even if BN loses power because of that… Laughing to the bank is the most important thing, dude!

We are at amber!

When i was a member inside a political party, I was very vocal. I used to quote this one example to the former president of the party.

I said that like in a traffic light junction, a person must know to stop at red and move at green, and be ready for both at amber.

Likewise, a leader must know when to go up and when to step down. To the credit of the former president, he did retire graciously, and pass the presidency to the present one.

A leader must know when to go. Looking at many instances all around the world, many leaders have done well for the first couple of years, and then corrupt rule sets in and many become dictators, especially in the third world, grabbing everything in sight and fooling the people with empty rhetoric; power is also consolidated with the utilisation of the state instruments like police and secret services.

The latest one is Gaddafi, the mad man of Libya, who should have retired long long time ago. There was in fact a chance at the beginning of the year, when the people demonstrated against him. He should have stepped down and go on exile. Instead, he chose to ignore popular sentiments and went against the will of the people, and fought a bloody war, in which tens of thousands were killed.

In the end, his defence collapses and his family will now face uncertainty and even death, if arrested.

Had he stepped down, hundreds of thousands of lives would have been  saved.

Power corrupts, and power often generates or rather degenerates into absolute power, and we all know the famous saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

That is why, in the evolvement of democracy, many nations have chosen the 2 party system where 2 more or less equal political groups would take turn to rule the country. Often, there are smaller parties that may form coalition with the 2 big ones in situations where there is no absolute majority for either of the big parties.This is the case in UK.

In others, like US, where presidential system makes  the office of the president a very powerful one, whoever is elected to sit in the office can only do so for a maximum of 2 terms.

This prevents absolute corruption from taking place when a leader staying too long may become a dictatorship. Also the frequent change enables new leadership and new ideas being tested and applied, ensuring progress and freshness at the highest office.

Malaysia is moving towards this 2 party system which is a good thing. But resistance for change is so strong that various institutions are being made use of to prevent a true 2 party system from taking roots.

So at this important juncture, perhaps all of us must pool all our resources together and make sure that this 2 party system survive its infancy.

Once a two party system has taken roots, then perhaps later on we can put in place better check and balance system by having a limit to the number of terms a person can be minister. The same limit can then be applied to important civil service posts like IGP, AG, DGs, etc.

The election is near. So it is the duty of all of us to convince people of the importance of this 2 party system. We should ask those urban people who have relatives in rural areas to explain this concept to their people back home.

The country is now at amber. Whether it will turn to green and progress, or red and remain stagnant, depends on everyone of us.

Do not rob Peter to pay Paul!

I always have nostalgic feeling about the 5 year stay I have in KE Hall, College Road near the Singapore General Hospital. It was during my 5 years of undergraduate days there.

At that time, our ringgit was on par with the Sing dollar ( at one time, it was even stronger, making  things in Singapore much cheaper than home), and I normally would buy back fruits whenever going back to Penang whenever  i had a break. The place I frequented most in Singapore was the Chinatown area, a stone throw and 15 minutes walk from our hostel.

AT that time, there was a flea market there every night, and going there after dinner became part of the routine for many medical students staying at KE Hall and had become a form of relaxation after a hard day at the hospital ward. (There were students from other faculties too staying there, but the majority was still medical and dental students).

People’s Park was already up. But we normally would go to the flea market since things were cheap, crowds were more colourful and it was good for people’s watching too, not to mention some of the food that was cheap and good.

Chinatown, or Niu Cher Sui in Mandarin,  is still up, and has now been designated a heritage area. Even though much has changed and  the flea market has gone( there are still stores in certain areas, but no more those who traded from a floor mat), the buildings are still there and the facade has not changed much, with most buildings painted and looking much newer than before.

This is heritage and all over the world, people are now preserving heritage buildings, since it is not only for the architecture, but also for the history and the memory of the people who had built, laboured, stayed and traded there.

Heritage is about our past, an important part of any nation.

Thus, it is with a feeling of disgust that I read that our MRT Co is going to acquire part of KL Chinatown area to make way for underground tunneling. How the surface buildings will be affected by tunnelling I do not know, since I am not a geo engineer and have no expertise on this.

The question I have for the authority is just this: Isn’t our heritage more important than development?

Our present Masjid Jamed stretch is underground but it did not affect those shops that are on the surface along the masjid jamed, pasar seni stretch. Why can’t same thing be done to the Chinatown area, if the line cannot be re-routed or re-aligned.

Today, news had it that shops in Bukit Bintang area are also being acquired. How on Earth would the underground tunnel affect those shops, I do not know, and maybe someone out there can enlighten me.

If the Channel Tunnel between England and France can be below sea, and there is no need to acquire the English Channel seabed and empty the seawater above the tunnel prior to making the tunnel, why can’t we be doing the same thing?

If shops are acquired in BBintang area, and they are not even  affected by the tunneling, and those who acquire it use it for other development and make a pile, then it is not right since those owning the buildings would be forced to give up a gold mine in the name of building MRT.

It is like robbing Peter to pay Paul..

I hope the authority can view the whole acquiring exercise in a more preservative mode, and try to use more modern technology in building this. Already our MRT cost is not cheap ( read my post on this). We do not want to add our loss of heritage  to the financial cost of building it. There is simply no value that an be attached to heritage, since it is something priceless.

Another case of unpretentiousness

US Vice president Biden is in Beijing for an official visit.

Apart from meeting Top Chinese leaders, he has gone down to the ground by patronising a local restaurant for lunch with his new ambassador. . This is a famous shop for locals, but ordinary,  not something fanciful.

His menu:

Left: Five bowls of noodles with soybean paste;

Right: 10 steamed buns;

Smashed cucumber salad;

Mountain yam salad;

Potato threads with green pepper;

Coca-Cola

Total: 79 yuan (US$12.4)

Tip: 21 yuan

(fthe meal is for  5 persons)

I am not trying to glorify US  or any western leader. Their systems have many flaws too. But one thing i admire is that most of the leaders know that they owe their positions to the people, and hence they normally act in less pretentious ways than many of leaders of the developing nations .

In the past few posts , I have been trying to point out the differences of how our top leaders and senior civil servants behave in public when they move around. Or how they react  (instead of respond) when there are voices of dissent from the ground asking them to review certain policies. Our leaders have no qualms in showing their arrogance, lavishness or even ignorance in public.

Unlike those in the west,  even if they may be arrogant or pretentious  in their private lives, they rarely show that in public. Whether those public behaviour   is genuine or just showmanship, you have to give it to them that they understand the basic tenet of democracy: that the people are the bosses. And there are less hierarchical hurdles when an ordinary person deals with government bureaucracy.

Just compare with our headline news the last few days.

A general accused those who came forward to admit committing election frauds as disloyal to him. A election commission chief labelled the demand for electoral reforms as putting a gun to his head. A minister even displayed such arrogance as to ask  ‘who is Bersih” when the whole world has witnessed the Bersih rally being tear-gased and water-cannoned; when the whole KL town was shut down because of the police road block.

I have purposely mentioned the way the Ambassador of US to China travelled, as well as how Vice president Biden lunched, not by eating exotic dishes like sharkfins, abalones, birdnests and so on, but simple dishes that normal people like you and me would have consumed if we have the chance to visit Beijing.

Compared this to how our top leaders and their wives travel , stay and eat.

In US, all their leaders have to declare their income , down to the very cent. In Malaysia, leaders earning 30000 a month salary can afford a diamond ring worth tens of millions.

I think this has a lot to do with how we understand the true meaning of democracy, and how we view the positions that we have attained.

I rest my case here.

Loyalty should be to the people!

To a soldier in an army, obedience to the superior officer is important . But this obedience is more for operations and in the fields, where a soldier’s duty is to carry out the command of his superior in executing certain offensive or defensive moves, according to plans and orders given.

Apart from his official duty, with regards to human rights, a soldier is just like anyone else. He should have his free will to vote. How can a superior officer take away a soldier’s right to choose his own government?Any superior officer must not forget that a soldier’s pay and welfare are given to him by the people, not from the pocket of any senior officer.

This is a democracy, not a feudal state.

Speaking of loyalty, a soldier’s loyalty, like any other ordinary citizen ( and that includes members of political parties and civil service),  should not be to any person. His ultimate loyalty is to his country, which means to the sovereign, the flag, and the people. His sole purpose is to serve his country, not his generals.

The people are what make up the country. The sovereign and the flag are institutional symbols representing the people. So the ultimate loyalty of a soldier is to the people who make up the nation.

This is the modern era and we are no more in the middle ages. The people are the boss. The army and the civil service are instruments of the people, not the government.

Senior government servants, including those in the security forces, must realise this. They owe their positions to the people, their remuneration is from the people and their loyalty is to the people and no one else.

……………………………………

(Read my previous post on Servant of the people)

Servant of the people!

One of the hotest topic among the chinese netizens is about the new American Ambassador to China, Gary Locke, or Luo Jia Hui.

No, he is not the ambassador fromChina to US, but US ambassador to China.

Locke is a third generation Chinese American and he rose to become the governor of the State of Washington as well as the Secretary of Commerce in Obama’s cabinet.

What surprises the Chinese people is the unpretentious way he travelled with his family to China, as the top representative from a super-power to another super-power.

The photos shows how  Locke and his family travelled.

It is just like any middle class family coming back from a holiday. Nothing pretentious,  without the trappings of power.

Compare it to just any county official. A county official would have people carrying his bag, and people besides and behind him.

Locke and his family carried their own backpacks/bags. He understands the real meaning of democracy. He understands that he works for his government , which is elected by the people, and thus, he is a worker for his people, and he owes his positions to his people.

I think  the Chinese people  have a lot to learn from this.

Not to mention  our Malaysian politicians( and their wives)  and high officials..Perhaps they can take a page from Locke.

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