Senseless deaths

I feel extremely sorry for the families of the 4 youngsters that died in a car accident in Johore recently, when the MPV they were in crashed into a ravine.

I also feel extremely sorry for the 17 year old youngster who drove the car and who survived the accident. I do not blame him, seeing how much he regretted and the grief he has displayed. I am sorry for him because this youngster would have to bear the burden of regret for these deaths for the rest of his life.

Whether it was his fault or somebody else (it was reported that some car cut into his lane just before the accident), it is no longer important, but we Malaysians  should learn something from these senseless deaths.

These youngsters were all going to be the ‘brains ‘ of the nation, and the deaths are not a loss to their families, but the whole nation as well.

From these senseless deaths can we learn anything?

Firstly, does passing the driving test mean that a person is qualified to drive? It would seem so, since under the law, anyone with a driving license can drive. But with just a few driving lessons and most of the lessons done on urban or town roads, is it sufficient to equip us to drive on unfamiliar road conditions? Long distance driving is very different; so much more anticipation and so much more care are needed in long distance driving that a good town driver may not be a good distance drivier.

Secondly, those with kids who have passed driving tests will all know about our system. A youngster approaches a driving school, and the first thing the driving instructor asks is whether you want to “pao”. If you want to ‘pao’, you pay a certain sum, and you are guaranteed to pass, one way or another, especially on road driving.  Even if you are a very lousy driver, but as long as you “pao”, they will also”pao’ you, and you will be given the license to kill drive. we all know that this has something to do with corruption, and corrupt officials are actually helping to churn out thousands of killer drivers every year. So much for the ‘blood money’ on their hands.

So knowing how the system functions, I had purposedly gone on long distance trips after each of my kids passed driving exam, and asked my kid to drive me, and gave him/her as much tips on long distance driving as I could while sitting next to him/her.  Children may not like it, but i think it is the adults’ duty to make sure that they are really able to handle a car well before letting them drive alone unsupervised especially on long distance driving.

In this case, I dont know whether the driver has ‘pao’ or not. But knowing that he has just passed his driving test, and knowing how our system function, why was he allowed to handle a big car like a 7 seater MPV(or SUV)? Why was he allowed to go on long distance driving? And why was he allowed to fetch 6 persons in the car on a long distance trip? Cars with full loads are typically  more difficult to manoevre, and a big car like a MPV  would require more skill in manoevring around corners or braking.

The system has to take some responsilibilty for this sort of accidents. Practically everyone knows about the ‘pao’ buisness. Everyone knows that corruption is involved. I am sure even the kids of the leaders have gone through the ‘pao’ system too. So the question to ask is that why after so many years, noting was done to curb it. .

The same system has been allowed to produce drivers that are half past six, drivers that do not obey road signs or rules , drivers that drive up against traffic in one way street and so on. Why wasn’t  anything  done? Giving reminders and presents on balik kampong trips during festive seasons are just gimmicks for publicity; i do not think it has any effect on curbing accidents and dangerous driving.

It is proper instruction and strict testing conditions that will help to produce better drivers. It is education and guidance that will produce more tolerant individuals who would be more patient and better drivers. Why nothing was done?

If nothing is done to overhaul the system, I am afraid that this will not be the last time we  see and read about these unnecesssary deaths.

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What transformation?

When a school boy comes back with  persistent poor grades, what any parent must do is to find out what is wrong; whether the boy understands his lessons, whether he puts in enough time to study and learn the things taught, and whether there is anything wrong in his way of studying if enough time has been put in and still he gets persistent poor grade. Once a fault is detected, there must be will power to correct it, and then the grade will slowly but surely improve.

Only a very indulgent and bad parent would blame the marking system or the school instead of his own boy, if over the years, markings by different teachers come to the same results.

This is what is happening here (Read this report: Pemandu blames new measurement method for poorer score). We are further and further down in the Corruption Perception Index. We have put in GTP, ETP and what have you, but all these transformations do not seem to work; rather, corruption has perceived to become worse, whether it is according to this international index, or just by asking any Ah Pek in the street.

One glaring issue is that very few big fish are caught and charged. When the top gets away, those-near -to-the-top,  those-further-below-the-top, and those who are way-below-the-top would all try to get corrupted. Afterall, who does not want easy fast money?

When people can get away from taking a big government loan to do a certain project, but instead use part of the money for something else, it will send a signal that all it matters in this country is connection and  position. Others having similar position or connection would want to emulate.

The authority may say there is  nothing wrong, but ask the people in the street, they have already formed  their opinion based on common morality pratice . They  will probably shake their heads and sigh, as a sign of helplessness to tackle this type of abuse.

You can have the best brains and the best plans to transform, but they will not work as long as this culture remains. When the top beam is crooked, how to expect the lower beams to be straight, even if they want to? Transformation would not work unless it is from the very top to the very bottom…..

………………………………………

Just imagine that a company with many shareholders  gives you a loan to start a chicken farm, and instead you use the money to buy cars and house, and when the auditor of the company points this out to the company shareholders, and the shareholders wanted to know why, you scream in a public forum as if you are the one who is the aggrieved party, and you blame the company, the auditor and the shareholders for doing this to you, why is the logic, where is the moral, where is common courtesy?

Kill the monkey to warn other monkeys and chickens

MACC has brought a corruption charge against an exMB. This MB stays in a house which is as big as a palace and is rumoured to be worth tens of millions.

I do not wish to go into the case since this is subjudice as the case will be tried in open court.

This is the second big one after a Tun was charged.

But what is important is not just to bring them to court. What is important is that MACC must be able to get  conviction in both these cases, and in cases that are to come.

It is important to nail big fishes so that the ikan billis can be warned. There is a Chinese saying that in order to warn the monkey we must kill the chicken. But the reverse is also true. We must kill the monkey in order to warn the chickens as well as other monkeys..

For the sake of future generations, I really hope that this case can bring a conviction and the palace-like house be confiscated if convicted.

Conviction is important because MACC’s credibility is at stake. If none of these cases can result in conviction, and all these big fishes are released back into the ocean, then a strong message will be sent to the chickens as well as the monkeys that it would be OK to be corrupted.

Let us just wait and see!!

Where are all the cats?

Corruption is the mother of all evils. It is like cancer, once taken roots, it is very difficult to get rid off. It will only get worse unless something drastic is being done.

One of the best indicators of the level of corruption in civil service  is the Annual Auditor General’s report. I wrote an article in October last year, “That time of the year again” and the points are still as valid today. You can read that article here.

I will also paraphrase the first few paragraphs here:

It is that time of the year again.

No, I am not  referring to the ‘durian’ season, nor  to the festivities like Deepavali, Hari Raya or Mid Autumn Festival.

I am referring to the time when lay men like you and me feel angry and frustrated towards certain ‘wrongs”, but are powerless to do anything.

Every year, since time immemorial, it has evoked the same feeling;  but every year, we just sigh , comment with our ‘coffee kakis’ in ‘Kopitiams’ and shake our heads . People like me with a computer will probably write something to let off steam;  the more important people, like those elected YBs from the other side of the divide, will probably pose some embarrassing questions in the Dewan.

The end results will be the same; life carries on and nothing changes. We will all forget about and talk on other issues until the time of the year is here again.

I refer to the week in the year when the Annual Auditor General’s report is released.

This year, one of the most shocking things revealed is that school children are given substandard food to eat, as reported in malaysiakini article :“Sandwich kosong” for school kids, sardince missing”. I will post part of that article here too:

This is what the Auditor-General found being supplied under the Additional Food Programme (RMT) designed for schoolchildren by the government.

In its report for the year of 2009, the Auditor-General found that SK Jeroco in Lahad Datu, which was supposed to provide the pupils sardine sandwiches with slices of cucumber, tomato and lettuce, gave them only margarine sandwiches.

auditor report sardine sandwich turn into white bread with margarine 251010Apart from the SK Jeroco, food suppliers in five different primary schools around Malaysia, who were checked out, were caught supplying food way below the quality of the recommended menu for the RMT programme.

“After the feedback from the dietician in the Health Ministry’s nutrition department, we found that food from the menu provided can cause the schoolchildren to suffer from malnutrition,” the Auditor-General’s Report noted.

Six other outsourced school food suppliers have also been caught providing food completely different from the recommended menu in the RMT programme, often food that was of lower value.

To cheat on kids is the most heinous crime . I do not know how these people can do such things; don’t they have any conscience at all?

It is either the suppliers have to give a big kickback to the officials awarding the contracts for supplying food to schools, or the suppliers themselves trying to give sub quality food and  pocketing the money. I think in the context of our country, the probability is high that the kickback is big, and the suppliers have no choice but to reduce the quality in oder to still make money, like our Car Project.

This has already become a culture. Officials sitting in big government offices think only of how to start projects , not for the well beings of the people, but more for utilising government funds and get kickback when awarding contracts for such projects. The projects are  not for the people anymore. IT is for their own pockets.

With corruption at such levels, even to the extent of supplying “sandwich kosong” and “bihun kosong’ to children, what is the authority doing? Will it be like previous years, after the hoohaa, everything will be back to normal again?  The rats that used to eat in dark places and hidden corners now are eating blatantly right on top of the table.. They eat all the sardines and leave behind the roti kosong.. Where are all the cats?

The first salvo from N to M

I find that this article from the Malaysia Chronicle a very good read. It is informative and analytical…click here. i will quote part of the article here.

Many Umno watchers believe that the only way for Najib to restore public confidence in his administration and more importantly reclaim his mandate to lead the nation, via his 1Malaysia plan, is to neutralize Mahathir and the ultra-Malay groups that Mahathir patronizes such as Perkasa and MPM.

“I think it no secret at all the Chinese in the PKFZ scandal are the small fry. Even Ling, with all due respect, he was just an order taker. But how does one go after a man the stature of Mahathir without causing an irreversible split in Umno. If Umno is shaken, the rest of nation will also be shaken. This is a fact and the non-Malays must be sensitive and patient,” the Umno watcher said.

“It is very hard to fight off accusations you are betraying your own race, especially hot-head groups like Perkasa and MPM – they politicize and racialise everything you say. Can Najib remain president of Umno if he is seen to be anti-Malay? Does it make sense? To nit-pick and argue at this point in time is wasteful.”

The big picture

According to the Umno source, if Najib were to openly challenge Mahathir and Perkasa, too much effort would be spent on unnecessary racial and political bickering and the economy would plunge to zero.

The better way out was to get the big picture right and then gradually fill in the new power equation. And getting the big picture right meant the first order of the day for Najib must be to reclaim his power. And finally get his 1Malaysia off the ground.

Right now, Najib is unable to move because of Mahathir, who after 22 years of ruling with a fist of iron, does not like the system of governance he set up to be changed. Also, his legacy of vested interests and his bevy of cronies needs to be protected, hence the enormous resistance to let go and let Najib rule as he sees fit.

“This is what the PKFZ is about – to show Mahathir who’s the boss at Umno and to tell Malaysians that he will keep his promises to reform and unify the races. But first of all, he has got to solve this huge problem called Dr M and his legacy from the past,” the watcher said.

Indeed, this opinion piece corresponds to what i said in my post “bring in the other Big Fish too!” a few days ago, after a meeting with N. He did mention that he was facing stiff  resistance over his reform, and he has to move cautiously to bring change.  Indeed i have warned of this in my other article: The ascendancy of the right wing politics.

That is what leadership is about!

This is from the MalaysianInsider today:

MCA today asked the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to give examples of countries which asked their Cabinet members to declare their assets to the public.

Its president, Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, said to his knowledge, no country practised such a policy.

“Even in the United States, they only declare their assets to the president. They don’t go around announcing their assets here and there,” he told reporters after opening Perak MCA’s annual convention here today.

Dr Chua said this when asked to comment on remarks made by MACC chief Datuk Seri Abu Kassim Mohammed that he wished to see the public declaration of assets by Cabinet and judiciary members in Malaysia.

Abu Kassim yesterday was reported to have said that he agreed with a suggestion by former Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan which called for Cabinet members to declare their assets to the public in the interest of transparency.

Presently, Cabinet members declare the assets annually to the prime minister.

I support Abu Kassim in this. Since the cabinet is made up of people voted in by the people and is supposed to act as  proxies for the people , there is such a thing called accountability. They are the representatives of the people and by virtual of being paid by the public,  they are public servants. And the public has the right to know about whether they have amassed unusual amount of wealth while in office. If that is so, something must be wrong somewhere and MACC must be given power to investigate.

It is very simple. For a Minister to stay in a house worth tens of millions, like what a former MB’s house was estimated to be, there must be something wrong, since even if they saved every single cent while in office, it is just not possible.

If  they can be clean, I , as a tax payer and their ultimate boss,  do not actually mind to pay them higher salary, like the little red dot is doing down south. I am sure most of you do not mind paying them higher salary so that they can live comfortably as a public servants if only they can be clean and there is no corruptions.

Just because other countries are not doing it does not mean that Malaysia should  not do it, if it is good. We should not follow people blindly.

Just like the chipped passport, which I believe Malaysia is  one of the first to adopt, why cant we be the first to  do something which is good and which is not done elsewhere in the world?

That is what leadership is about!

Bring in other Big Fish too!

A Tun was charged in court. This is the highest ranked person so far to be charged in the history of the country.  Although in law, a person is innocent until proven otherwise, i view this as a good start for bringing big fish to book.

Hope more prosecutions can be done, and more Big Fish can be brought to court, other than this fish head..  And for successful prosecution,  MACC must be given independent status with power to prosecute, something i have been harping since the beginning of this blog in 2006.

Under the law, all men are equal. All crimes must be punished.   All those public figures who have wealth and  assets  beyond their earnings  must be investigated and if no proper reasons can be given as to how they have amassed such wealth, investigate them thoroughly and charge them!

I was in the group that met the Top in  a dialogue . It was a  closed door meeting, and since the Top came late , only a few of us got the chance to speak, and those who spoke, spoke on some of the issues that I have highlighted in the article “tips of the iceburg’.  I was one of those who spoke and i think i was the most blunt and frank, as is my usual  style. We spoke on the need to be prudent in spendings, cut the wastages,   and the need to really tackle corruption, and that MACC was  perceived to be a tool of the government…  To his credit, the Top was taking note. I cannot reveal what exactly transpired   since it was a closed door meeting, and who spoke what.

The Top is facing resistance from right wingers, as divulged by one of the Penang leaders to a Chinese press after the dialogue.  He was quoted this in Nanyang 28/7/10 edition page A8, and this is  the translation of his news (for the sake of those who do not read Mandarin) : “Perdana Menteri terasa dalam mengerakkan ideal tadbir urus negara kerana menghadapi halangan daripada sayap kanan Melayu”. I resorted to quoting this news by this person  because none of us was  supposed to say anything about what the Top had said, but since this person  has already told  this  to the press,  quoting him was an indirect way of telling my readers  out there that the Top mentioned that he is facing great resistance in his trying to move his 1M concept, be fair to everyone (like in awarding scholarships to all 9A+ (regardless of skin colour) and government reform. Of course no one knows whether he says it from his heart, but his body language told me that he was quite sincere when he mentioned that.

I have also heard from other sources that his position within his party is not as strong as before because of the right wingers including the Old Horse and his outsourced organisation Perkasa..

The fear is if he cannot deliver, he would be pushed out and the Right winger’s Head would be the next Top.. A friend from Singapore expressed the same fear in Singapore of this happening to me too recently over tea.

As a small person and an ordinary folk, I think I have answered to my conscience in speaking without fear and favour  all this while, and I have even spoken  face to face with the very Top and bluntly too.

I have played my parts and have done my best as a small man in the street, and being an ordinary person , I will probably gradually fade away from all these. I have had enough. Being attacked by both sides is demoralising.  I was also glad that while waiting for the Top to arrive, the advisor (whom I have criticised very strongly in many National Meets) commended me as ” conscience of the party”, perhaps an  indirect recognition of my being very vocal  in meetings and being without fear or favour, bringing out things that i have written in this blog, and steppng on toes of top leaders and by doing so, many of these people  view me as  even more “opposition-minded’ than many opposition members.

It is one way to show that being a member of a political party does not mean that you have to sell your soul to them. On the other hand, you can be a thorn and keep on reminding them on ideology, and being a person with no ambition and a person who has done no wrongs and no leash around the neck for them to control, they cannot do anything to you. Even though my clinic was audited ( an euphemism for ‘raid’), nothing substantial could be used against me,  and if I am really pro-government, would I suffer such a fate?

Change can come from outside and change can come from applying pressure from within. All roads lead to Rome. Though Rome , in the Malaysian sense,  is still far far away, charging this TUN is the right first step.

I have always said that, even to my own members, that it would be good for the country for  the ruling party to lose once and change for the better and then come back cleaner and stronger, like he case in Taiwan.. I have not changed this view, but in the meantime, we still need change, no matter how subtle, for the people to live better. And you still need people to speak up either within the system or as a creditable third force, even though these people will be attacked by both sides, since to one side he is with the other, and to the other side, he is viewed as more opposition than opposition. That is the role no one cherishes; only those without ambition and without hoping to get anything except harrassment or even ISA can play, since only then, you can speak without fear or favour.

Charging this Tun is certainly a surprise to many, and i supposed many other Tan Sris and Datuks are now shivering, and did not know when the next big fish will be charged.

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