Thursday, February 23, 2012


FIRST I must make it clear that I support any initiative to help the poor, regardless of race and religion. Which means that on this score I'm on the same wave-length with former finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

I was also supportive of anything under the New Economic Policy that was intended to help improve the overall economic situation of the Malays/Bumiputras in general but again this was incumbent on helping only those who needed help.

The big difference between Tengku Razaleigh a.k.a. Ku Li and Aziz Hassan is that while the prince had enough platforms while a minister and a senior member of the Umno supreme council to try and correct any imbalance or lopsided policies, I did not.

I now quote the relevant paragraphs from a report in the Malaysian Insider today on Ku Li's speech at the "Breakfast Meeting" forum.

In highlighting the NEP as a major source of disunity, Ku Li said this: "If we visit government departments or universities, we wonder where all the non-Malays have gone. After 1969, suddenly there was this attempt to recruit mostly Malays into the civil service.

"It is tragic that the civil service does not reflect the racial composition of the Malaysian population, as the predominant presence of only one race tends to engender a sub-culture that is antithetical to the evolution of a dynamic and efficient civil administration in the country."

After 1969? Forget Tunku Abdul Rahman because by that time it was widely known that Tunku was on the way out, which leaves us with Tun Razak Hussein and Tun Hussein Onn, both deceased. The man many people love to hate, Tun Mahathir Mohamed, became our CEO only in 1981.

Ku Li was highly regarded by Razak and had the PM's ears too. The problem is Malaysians  above 50 cannot remember Ku Li as the Umno man/minister who fought to correct what was wrong with the government's policies which he thought were favouring the Malays. At least we don't remember him publicly advocating consistently and diligently a different approach.

He could have spoken out at the Umno supreme council to try and make a difference. He certainly could have done that too at the cabinet while serving under three PMs. Did he?

Ku Li headed Pernas, the now non-existent Bank Bumi and Petronas, apart from holding two cabinet portfolios. Did he recruit differently from other Malay bosses and politicians at these places? Bank Bumi was a very Malay bank in terms of its staffing. Petronas too has always been known to be heavily Malay.

But Pernas takes the cake because it was set up in November 1969 following a resolution at the second Bumiputra Economic Congress. It's objective was to help only the Malays and Bumiputras and Ku Li was its founding chairman. Not only the policies were closed and thus favoured only the Malays and Bumis, so too was its stated recruitment policy. So what does this mean in terms of favouring one race? Wasn't Ku Lii too responsible for this biased, lopsided situation at the expense of the non-Malays?

As chairman of the Umno-owned Fleet Group from 1972 to 1982, who were Ku Li's appointees to head the companies within the group and to make up the senior management? Was racial balance ever a consideration?

Didn't Ku Li realise the folly of the government's policies then? If he did and felt strongly enough, the decent thing to do would have been to resign. He didn't and because he didn't, Ku Li must be held collectively responsible for being part of that government.

Or did the realisation come about only recently? If this indeed is the case, then we must add a now vocal former Umno minister, a retired senior judge and a retired senior cop to the list of people who moan and groan the loudest about everything that is wrong about this country and its leaders -- but only after leaving office.         

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


HAD a problem at first trying to decipher it all because the remarks came from someone of a high standing. It was like "Can I believe this?" or "Did he actually say this?"

It's been three days and since there is no denial or clarification, the news portal must have quoted him and another legal mind correctly.

In a nutshell, to Tun Dzaiddin Abdullah, a former chief justice, almost everything that is wrong with our judiciary is all due to Tun Mahathir Mohamad -- chief tyrant, he the all-intimidating politician, the prime minister who whipped everyone into submission.

In his address at the weekend to honour the birthday of our first PM Tunku Abdul Rahman, amongst other things, Dzaiddin said Mahathir had cowed the judiciary for well over two decades.

He spoke about the amendments in 1988 and 1989 pertaining to judicial review, the amendment to Article 121 of the federal Constitution, which effectively clipped the judiciary's wings.

Thus the courts have become subservient to politicians in the executive arm of the government, said Dzaiddin. A sweeping statement but the portal's report did not say if Dzaiddin had referred to specific cases to back his claim.

Also mentioned by Dzaiddin was the sacking of then Lord President Tun Salleh Abas due "to clashes between the two over the roles of the two arms of the government".

At the same event Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee had his take too on Salleh: "We must never allow a PM to sack judges.....Salleh was sacked because he made a judicial pronouncement unfavourable to the government of the day."

What set me thinking was primarily this: If Dzaiddin was firm in his belief that Mahathir had messed up with the judiciary since 1988/89, why did he stay on as a judge? Can a judge who's cowed be expected to do what is required of him without fear or favour?

I'm reminded of the late lawyer Raja Aziz Addruce who refused to appear in court when Tun Hamid Omar was the LP. It doesn't matter if you agree or disagree with him but at least Raja Aziz kept his principle intact.

In the case of Dzaiddin, not only did he stay on as a judge but also accepted the appointment as CJ in December 2000 and served until his retirement in March 2003. It was an appointment by the Agong but acting on the advice of the PM. Was it not Mahathir who was the PM at that time?

Was the problem with Salleh not a result of him incurring the displeasure of a late Agong? The decision to form the tribunal to hear the case against him was taken only after Salleh had changed his mind about resigning.

I have no doubt that there was no love lost between Mahathir and Salleh but the fact remains that the dispute started when the Agong didn't want Salleh around.

The other fact is that Mahathir left office about 8 1/2 years ago. Still not enough time for the judiciary to get back into shape?

But what if those who led the judiciary after Dzaiddin, and the present too, don't agree with his views? Would not that be an insult, an affront to their dignity and integrity? Still fearful of a Mahathir who left office in late 2003, or any other government politician?

Even if Mahathir was such a man would you, by your own admission, serve under such a person when there were other options available?

Would you, again by your own indirect admission, allow yourself to be put down, to be subdued and to be intimidated by this man, only to speak out years later?

I know I wouldn't. Malu.


Thursday, September 29, 2011


ALL of us can remember most of the things we said, no matter how long ago. Not every word but certainly most of the main thrusts. But not Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

Why? Because he says he makes like a few of them everyday. So it's up to you whether you want to believe Lim when he said that he could not remember if he had taken a dig at Johor at a luncheon in Singapore only some weeks ago.

To be absolutely certain Lim wants to get a tape of what transpired at the event but in the meantime he has apologised to the Johor Sultan and his subjects. This Lim did today at a press conference at his office in Penang, adding that he meant no ill intent. That's a cliche, to be sure.

By the way TV3 aired a tape of what it said contained Lim's remarks at the luncheon but for now Lim is disputing this, saying that "suddenly a tape appears....." Don't know if he is suggesting the TV station concocted this but it seemed to imply exactly that.

What you notice about Lim is he doesn't waste anytime in claiming credit and is just as quick in having a go at his foes. The problem is he sometimes claims credit where it is due to others. When it's positive to him you can see the glow on his face, an eagerness that comes out of a bloated ego. An gentlemanly leader leaves it to others to heap praises on him. 

In this case, even if Penang has the country's best crime index, all the credit is due to the police -- a federal agency over which Lim has no say and control.

There's also this little issue of the manner the apology was done. Under normal circumstances a person would first ask to be granted an audience, during which the apology is made in person. That's the general understanding of the requirements of Malaysian protocol.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


MOST unusual decision this -- and taken by none other than the Cabinet!

No one should doubt that it's well-intended but how could the government decide on something that involves others not under its jurisdiction? The issue is one of training in safety procedures for journalists on assignment in conflict zones and disaster areas.

One is sure the local press will be more careful in how it prepares its journalists for such assignments after the shooting death of Bernama TV cameramen Noramfaizul Mohd. Nor on September 2 in Mogadishu but compulsory training by the government?

Willing editors should not have too many problems adhering to this if it's about coverage of an ongoing conflict but a disaster is a completely different scenario. It usually strikes without warning, thus giving editors almost no time to make advanced preparations. Often the journalists assigned have only hours to pack their backs and pick up their passports before making their way to the airport. So  when do they train?

Question is: Doesn't the government have enough on its plates already?


JUST saw a headline quoting Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng as saying that whatever he uttered at a luncheon in Singapore last week, including some uncomplimentary comments about Johor, was a "private conversation". My foot......

You speak at an event organised by journalists and attended by journalists and you say it's private? Worse still insisting so in this age of the new media, where almost nothing is secret and left to the imagination.

Lim hasn't denied saying all those things which have offended Johoreans and others and now that what he said in that supposedly private environment has gone public, Lim should be man enough to bite the bullet and deal with the consequences. That's what leadership is all about and it's time Lim shows if he has it. 

Monday, September 26, 2011


GOOD if the crime rate in Penang has gone down but in trying to entice foreigners to flock to your backyard, must you also run down another state?

Apparently that's what Lim Guan Eng did at a foreign correspondents luncheon in Singapore recently, picking up on Johor which is heavily promoting its Iskandar region to foreign investors.

Let's just leave it to the police to confirm if their statistics back up Lim's claim or clear Johor's good name. But regardless of the public safety situation, is it right for any Malaysian to speak ill of his country when overseas and when fronting a mainly foreign audience?

Singaporeans most likely to be kidnapped when in Johor compared to Lim's supposedly very safe Penang? He may have said this in jest but we haven't heard many stories of Singaporeans being grabbed in the streets in Johor, to be released only after a huge ransom is paid.

Promote the state you lead if you must but you don't have to run down your competitor at the same time........

Penang wasn't such a safe place in the late 80s. As a journalist based in the north then, I remember often receiving stories from our guys on the island about one serious crime after the other, so much so that my assistant P. K. Bala, now deceased, kept asking what exactly was wrong with his home state.

"KLpun (Kuala Lumpur) tak teruk macam ni...." (Even KL is not this bad), was his oft-repeated moan.

Not only that, but just a few weeks into our transfers there from KL we saw the kind of flare-ups in and outside the bars of the kind we never saw in KL and other parts of the Klang Valley in 12 or 15 years. We saw those who felt they were unfairly treated calling for reinforcements who came with tools like baseball bats! The gangs had female members too.

But if the crime situation has indeed improved, then all credit must go to the police, an absolute federal agency over which Lim has no control or say whatsoever. So too having more CCTVs to help the police control crime, as boasted by Lim in Singapore, unless these are put up by the state government.    

Thursday, September 22, 2011


HERE we have it again, the issue of whether a person deemed by the prosecutors to have commited an offence should be charged.

This time the person concerned is Mohamad Sabu, a.k.a. Mat Sabu, the Pas No. 2 who went on an adventure back into history about who's the good guy and who's the crook during the country's troubled times 61 years ago.

For picking out a certain Mat Indera as the hero instead of the 25 cops at the Bukit Kepong police station who were killed in a fire-fight, Mat has been charged with criminal defamation. Wrong call by the prosecutors?

Herein lies the dilemma. Countless reports were lodged with the police against Mat by all kinds of characters and NGOs. So the police had to investigate, right? Having completed this, the police must have concluded that Mat had committed an offence. Off the investigation papers went to the Attorney-General's Chambers, which decided that Mat had in fact done wrong. But this is not the end of the story because eventually it will be for the court to decide, whatever the opinions of the police and the AG.

This is how the system works in this country and a lot of people know this, certainly the legal trained.

But now some are saying that Mat should not be charged, especially since the prime minister had only very recently announced plans for more liberalisation and that after the ISA is repealed and replaced by other laws, no one would be punished solely for having dissenting political views. Correct but the PM was being specific about provisions in the new legislation. Other laws covering other offences will remain. Those questioning the wisdom of charging dear Mat must be able to draw a line somewhere. If they feel that what Mat said didn't deserve a charge, the way to go about it would be to ask that the law on this offence too be amended or repealed.

What everyone against the decision by the AG seems to have ignored is the need for the investigators and prosecutors to be truly independent, going about their work only guided by what the law says and provides for.

Using the political perspective to ask that someone is not charged only translates into interference in the work of the police and the prosecutors. Isn't this what many people don't like to see happen?   

Sunday, September 18, 2011


YA we've seen it, the Malaysia Airlines ad on the QPR jersey. And Air Asia having theirs on the away jersey in an arrangement where the former picks up about 60% of the tab over two seasons, which comes to about RM18 million says one report.

Apart from the deal announced by Khazanah Malaysia last month that gives Air Asia 20% of the national airline which in turns gets a 10% stake in the latter, this decision to advertise with QPR is one that is still being discussed by sports enthusiasts and others alike.

The main talking point is if it's money well spent and secondly, why MAS is paying more than its "partner" when the main publicity thrust on live TV for a newly-promoted team like QPR would be when it's playing away against the big boys in the Premier League.

QPR majority shareholder and Air Asia big boss Tony Fernandes thinks that our Astro should be showing more of QPR here -- and I'm sure he was talking about live coverage -- because he says he has received many messages which indicates a growing interest amongst Malaysians for the club. You don't expect him to say otherwise, would you?

But surely Tony knows that's not how TV coverage works, at least when the key words are  commercial interests. In other words, for the TV operator, return on investments. What QPR needs to do before it can hope for more prominent media coverage here or anywhere else for that matter is to first show results. That's the way it goes.

Another point being asked: Tony the QPR controlling shareholder is also a board member of MAS following the deal under Khazanah. Is there not a conflict of interests there somewhere?