Dr M and Racial Based Politics


(Countdown – 326 days to “doomsday”)

Read These First

(Race based policies are as just as bad and cruel as open segregation of society and citizens based on the color of their skin seen here in an early 1930s photo. Image source: http://www.old-picture.com)

Now read this:-

It is better to slow down development than to scrap race-based policies and risk ethnic clashes in the country, Tun Dr Mahathir has said.

The former prime minister, in making the case for the continuation of such policies, wrote in a blog posting here that taking away racial consideration when doing business would not necessarily guarantee development.

Writing once in an earlier blog posting in 2010, Dr Mahathir had said: “I may be labelled a racist but fear of the label will not stop me from working for what I think is good for the country.

“Nothing will be gained by dividing the people of Malaysia into poor Bumis and rich non-Bumis. The time is not right for disregarding the disparities between the races in the interest of equity and merit.”

The country’s longest-serving former prime minister, who still wields influence in the ruling Umno, continued to stress this point in his latest posting.

“It is true that if the problem of race does not haunt Malaysia, development would speed up.

“But when the distribution of wealth is so wide between the races, there is a large possibility hostilities would occur between the rich and the poor,” he said.

(Source)

As much as we highly respect the 86 years old politician for “some” of the good things that he have done for the country, certainly after 55 years of Independence when people from different racial background and culture called themselves as Malaysians, it is high time we revisit the need for racial based policies. Race based policies have never been good to anyone – still remember Germany’s Aryan misadventures by the Nazis, South Africa’s Apartheid and once upon time, the white-black segregation in the deep south of America?

Dr M may have valid points – after all it will not be easy to scrap race based policies overnight – not when we have been governed by it for almost 43 years. But that does not mean we should harp on the very unfair policies for another 43 years. It has to go away one day and the sooner we do it, it is better in the long run (and we seem to have the first step of breaking down race based policies in 2008 by voting for more multi-race based political parties and sent at least one known race based political party into the wilderness). And in making his case for race based policies, Dr M embarks on 2 arguments. One – it will risk ethnic clashes and Two – all Bumis are poor and all non-Bumis are rich.

Sounds familiar? It is the same old argument (or variations of it) heaped on fellow Malaysians by the same race based political party politicians to keep themselves in power. Even if we were to take the 86 years old man’s words as the gospel truth, the question is what does we intend to do about it? After all, here is an ex-PM telling others that he rather throws national development down the drain for an unspecific period than to scrap race based policies that many have deemed unfair, flawed and open for abuse. The 2 arguments put forward by Dr M may be flawed as well.

Flawed because firstly it is not taking into consideration of changes that have happened locally and globally in recent times. It is no longer 1969 all over again. America for example has a President who in 1930s – 1960s would have been asked, sorry, told to buzz off from white only areas. The Apartheid in South Africa has long gone and buried and in Malaysia, we are no longer seeing prevailing race based industries or sectors – there is still perhaps in sub-sectors but it is not too obvious in main sectors.

These days, generally you can find all races in all sectors – something that did not happen back in a prevailing basis in 1960s. And there seems to be an even more effort put forward by Najib’s administration to liberate economy sectors. So at the point of such liberation taking place, not only in Malaysia and in the economic sector, one need to take a couple steps back and wonder if harping on race based policies is wise.

Secondly, it must be affirmed that poverty is a global issue and affects all races – both Bumis and Non Bumis. You will find both the rich and the poor at both sides of the spectrum. It is a fact that must be taken into consideration if one is to keep saying that race based policies is best for the country. If we were do that, then unfairness creeps in – you may end up leaving a section of society who are poor but at the same time is unable to find the needed relief under the provisions made by their Government. Think about it for a second.

National policies that work on eradication of poverty should never be made on the basis of the colour of the skin or ethnic background but rather must always be based on class of personal wealth. It is fair thing to do anyway. If we are to take the race based policies by it’s’ horn, will it at end of the day risk ethnic clashes? To answer this, we should look back at the basis of Dr M’s contention that it will – the so-called 1969 ethnic riots – an incident from which saw the birth of race based policies such as New Economy Policy.

That was 43 years ago – didn’t the NEP balanced the so-called imbalance wealth to some extent over those years (even with the glaring shortcomings)? One can crunch the numbers from the many sources available on the internet. There seems to be more than enough wealth to be shared and improve the standings of fellow Bumi Malaysians (read this excellent open letter on the issue). But what is not enough is the will-power and punitive actions to severely punish those who abuse the wealth in form of corruption and conflict of interest. And there seems to be an affirmation of abuse of tax-payers money when it comes to national projects or contracts especially after 43 years of the race based policies you still read this:-

The DAP has blasted the Najib administration for awarding a lucrative RM7 billion highway deal, to be tolled for a record 60 years, to a company known principally for making and selling granular and powder-activated carbon.

(Source)

Or this:-

In comparison Petronas has paid RM 3,307 psf of pedestrian walkway – almost SIX times the psf price of a six star condominium in Mont Kiara.

I don’t think it is paved with 916 gold either. And there are no Jacuzzis provided in case the ever increasing number of KL’s vagrants who do populate some of the other walkways at nite, want to take a bath or have a water massage.

Petronas paid RM100.0 million or RM3,307 psf for a 30,285 sq. ft. pedestrian walkway. If you ask me, this type of costing is worse than the lembu condo. Someone had a very early Christmas.

(Source)

And despite Government and the Government linked companies blowing millions of the national wealth instead of pumping it for the benefit of Malaysians living in poverty and to make the industries, workforce and individual income more resilient, comes along an ex-PM defending the race based policies that will only perpetuates abuse and unfairness. It is only a mystery as to how scrapping of race based policies and speed up the effort on corruption and abuse will risk ethnic clashes – especially when the very fight against corruption and abuse is to return wealth back to those who in need the most – poor Malaysians who the bulk comprised of Bumis.

This is why, despite the misgiving that Pakatan Rakyat seems to be projecting, we should give it a run for the Government – at least to stop the leakages in national wealth and abuse of tax-payers money. The new Government should scrap all race based policies and promote more equitable based policies that will address any shortcomings, any imbalances in wealth and power and that is what as recent as 2012, Pakatan Rakyat strives to achieve in the long run. Not promoting fear of ethnic clashes and further abuse of power and national wealth.

And yes, for the time being, we need to ignore the 80 plus year old politician – age may be catching up with him but then again, at the same time, we should not lose focus of continuing to scrap the existing race based policies (and the aged, senile politicians that is tied to it). It has been in the system for far too long and it is not helping the country in the long run.

It’s Only Common Sense, Right?


(Countdown – 330 days to “doomsday”)

(Petrol stations have plenty of flammable fuel, so imagine seeing a fire at the petrol station. Now imagine if you are next to it or worst, you and your love ones in the inferno. Image source: http://www.greentechmedia.com)

You probably have seen this at your nearest petrol station…

I was driving back from an appointment late one night. I looked over at my fuel indicator, as I was about to pass my usual petrol station near my house and decided that I needed a top-up – I always keep about RM10 of fuel in reserve just in case there is an emergency (imagine if one need to rush to the hospital at the wrong time of the day and the fuel gauge shows at “E”). I put up my indicators and slowly turned in to the petrol station.

It must have a slow night – there were not many cars at the pumping stations but there was more than enough at the parking lots (I saw a long queue at the ATM machine). I drove in slowly and parked just right for an easy fill up (where the fuel lid is on the same side as the pump). I switched off the engine, went in, smiled at the cute lady at the counter, paid for the fuel and came out to pump fuel. As I was doing that, I saw a large MPV turning into the petrol station as well and parked not far from me.

With the engine still running, the driver casually got out (he was well dressed and he looked educated too) and went in to pay for fuel. I also noticed that there were small children at the back seat and they were busy watching cartoon on the MPV’s DVD screen. The driver came back and still with the engine running, he casually opened the fuel lid and started to pumping fuel.

(Some idiots seems to misunderstand the precautions needed when fueling at petrol stations. Fire can start and spread in split seconds)

For a moment, I did not know what to say – I was speechless. Hasn’t the driver read the big notice asking drivers to switch off their engine before pumping petrol? I mean it is only common sense that one does not smoke, use the mobile phone or let the engine running when fuelling. Unless you are dressed up in a fire-retardant suit (like those in F1), you are simply asking for trouble.

Still remember this:-

Speaking at a press conference at the office of lawyer Karpal Singh yesterday, the boy’s father, Ahmad Nizam Abd Rahman, said he did not expect a normal stop at the petrol station in Batang Kali on Oct 12 to turn awry. Nizam said he and his family were going back to their hometown to celebrate Hari Raya when the incident happened.”I was pumping petrol when the pump nozzle caught fire. Everything happened so fast. The next thing I knew Ikmal was on fire.”

Nizam said he and his two other sons were also burnt by the flames but Ikmal was the most seriously injured. He said he tried to put out the fire but there were no fire extinguishers.

(Source)

Think of the case scenarios – the MPV catching fire and since the driver standing next to it, catching himself on fire as well and soon the fire spreading to other areas of the petrol station, causing panic and traffic as others tried to drive out from the fiery inferno and the children who moments ago, watching cartoon trapped in a wall of fire.

Unfortunately this is not the first time I have seen idiots pumping fuel whilst leaving the engine running. And I am amazed and shocked at the same time. It is not like they are too stupid to understand the consequences – maybe they are but stupidity does not give them the right to endanger others. As much as I was anticipating fire, I did not stay long to find out.

I quietly drove out, hoping that gross stupidity and ignorance did not kill anyone that day.

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NFC: When They Will Be Really Honest?


(Countdown – 336 days to “doomsday”)

(An unexpected revelation of corruption involves the cows or an internal chess-play for the Pantai Parliamentary seat? Cartoon source: Zunar / Malaysiakini)

It could be just an hypothetical question but here’s one last post before the holidays…

This article by Citizen Nades on the NFC mess was a good one and if you had missed reading this in The Sun last Wednesday, here it is in verbatim (basically it nails the same thing that every tax payer has in their mind):-

Be honest and answer all questions
R. Nadeswaran

RULE No 1 in a calamity, according to the gurus of crisis communications, is that you should never run away from a problem as it will not bring about a solution. The more you try to hide, the more will be out in the open. You can never solve a crisis by remaining silent. The more you put a spin on a crisis, the more attention it attracts. The golden rule is: Be honest and answer all questions.

Today’s column is not an exercise in public relations or crisis communications, but three bulletins from Ghazalie Abdullah who describes himself as one who “counsels, writes, speaks, designs, articulates and steers corporations on using public relations to achieve their corporate, financial and marketing goals” provoked some thought into the whole affair involving the National Feedlot Corporation.

On Dec 23 last year, journalists received a statement from Ghazali which read: “As part of the ongoing investigations, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers visited National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd today. The management and staff welcomed the visit and extended their full cooperation. It is the view of the National Feedlot Corporation that this afternoon’s visit by the MACC was not a raid as reported.”
Really? Did they come for Darjeeling tea, muffins and scones or teh tarik and kuih? Perhaps a dictionary would have helped explain the meaning of the word “raid”. If they came a visiting like we visit each other’s open houses, would they be carting away CPUs and files?

The second followed a day later. It said that “NFC Chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh Ismail wishes to clarify to the media that the Datuk apprehended by the police recently, is not related to him or any member of his family.”

How did anyone know the identity of the Datuk when the police had not even produced him in court or charged him? Ghazali must be aware that the media in Malaysia never identify any suspect or arrested person unless he or she is charged with an offence. Surely, Salleh or Ghazali must have had inside information!

But what arrived in the inbox two days ago was something extraordinary. For starters, the statement said: “With police investigations on NFC reported concluded, NFC has today emerged to clarify the allegation that directors of the company have been receiving huge unjustifiable salaries.”

Who decides if the police have concluded investigations, and even if they have done so, it is for the police to say so. Emerged? From where – from hiding or from a taxpayer-funded holiday?

Executive director Wan Shahinur Izmir Salleh clarified that the directors were earning nowhere near the overstated figures saying that the relevant authorities have the information on their payroll and the bank statements to match.

On a more serious note, I believe him because there has been no documentary evidence presented by the claimants to back the figures which looked exaggerated. But instead of facing the media and answering the questions, why has the company which has “emerged” hiding behind statements?

Wan Shahinur not only assured but “reassured the public should not be unduly alarmed by such postings in the internet that offered distortions and incorrect information.”

Thank you, but how can taxpayers be assured if the amounts have been distorted when the correct figures have not been presented?

He also says the expenses incurred on corporate credit cards were for business development. The business development expenses by the four directors, he says, reflect the magnitude of its multi-million ringgit sales.

But can he tell how much such expenses were. After all, it was taxpayers’ money to the tune of RM250 million that got the NFC going and technically, we are all stakeholders and have a right to know.

While the NFC can beat its chest and claim it has “emerged”, there’re only bits and pieces of information that are “emerging”. It has not denied the purchase of condominium units in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and would NFC care about telling us about the purchase?

Surely, if it was the figment of imagination of some anonymous writer in cyberspace, all right-thinking people will disbelieve him or her. But at media conferences, documents and photographs have been produced to substantiate the claims and the “emergence” of NFC has not seen it fit to tackle these issues.

As much as this writer wants to believe that everything is above board, it becomes painful when selected issues are addressed.

This problem will not go away with terse and selective statements. There’s a Tamil proverb which says that you cannot hide a whole pumpkin in a plate of rice, which is exactly what NFC is trying to do.

Once and for all, put all the cards on the table, come clean and put up your hands if you have done wrong. Only then will the whole nation believe anything that comes from NFC itself or through consultants and counsellors.

R. Nadeswaran says the public has a right to know how taxpayers’ funds are used when the government doles them out to entrepreneurs. He is theSun‘s UK correspondent based in London and can be reached at: citizen-nades@thesundaily.com

The allegations of misuse of public funds by NFC stakeholders has been mind boggling – from buying condominiums to settlement of personal credit cards. I am not sure where it will end. The authorities are investigating these allegations of course and the Minister in question has been asked to go on a long leave and NFC’s assets frozen. Now she is suing back too and this may drag things further, at least at the political arena. But basic and simple answer to questions raised is what we want at the end of the day

In the meantime, Happy Chinese New Year and Happy Holidays…

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3 Idiots vs Nanban


(Countdown – 338 days to “doomsday”)

It suppose to be a quick post but I ended up writing more especially after yesterday I watched again the well made 3 Idiots

nanban

(The guy on the far right – your right – seems better than the rest. Trust me, you will be safer watching the original 3 Idiots than the “new” idiots in Nanban – they are nowhere close to the beauty of story-telling and acting in 3 Idiots. Poster source: Indiaglitz)

Indiaglitz in their review of the movie said:-

First things first. Let’s not compare ’3 Idiots’ with ‘Nanban’. Though the latter is a faithful remake of the Aamir Khan starrer, ‘Nanban’ has its own moments. It carries a nice theme presented in an interesting way. It drives home the point that one shouldn’t run behind success and rather pursue his/her own interests. If one develops right skill anything is possible.

I guess they are just trying to be nice here and nothing more. I agree – perhaps Nanban would have made more sense and entertaining if you have not watched 3 Idiots in the first place. This post however will make more sense for those who have. Indiaglitz asks us not compare ’3 Idiots’ with ‘Nanban’ but how we could not do that? Nanban is almost 100% remake of 3 Idiots in many ways including many of the dialogues, settings and characters.

And if you are intending to watch the latest Tamil flick Nanban, please don’t waste your time and money. Despite the big names in the acting roles and film-making (Enthiran’s Shankar being the director here) and having copied almost 100% of 3 Idiots which was released in 2009, Nanban sucks big time. Don’t get me wrong – those acted in Nanban is highly talented in their own standing but coming together in Nanban, something did not just click right. It is missing the fire that we saw in 3 Idiots.

Comparing the two movies side by side, you will be better off watching the more original, the more entertaining and more believable 3 Idiots starring Aamir Khan. Take the main character – Aamir Khan is like thousand times better than Vijay in the same role (so does all others). You can see a glimpse of hidden intelligence when you see Rancho the first time in 3 Idiots but you see nothing (despite trying very, very hard) when you see Pari in Nanban.

Nothing seemed natural here – Vijay seemed to be trying very hard to be that innocent but brilliant student who changes the life of his 2 friends. All the actors in Nanban seemed to be trying hard to follow the same style of the actors in 3 Idiots but do not achieve the same fluid. You don’t feel the same agony even after Jeeva’s character jumps from the top floor of the university. And once that key characters in the movie is ruined, you can kiss the whole movie good-bye as well.

(Who is the better “virus”? Boman Irani was a class better than Sathyaraj in the same role. Image source: http://www.moviespad.com)

Even the well talented Sathyaraj seemed to have wasted his energy and time here as well (you want to see Sathyaraj in his elements? Watch Kannamoochi Yenada and you will see why I say that he has wasted his energy and time here). The award winning Boman Irani who acted in same role (as the much hated “virus”) in 3 Idiots have done his role just too well – In 3 Idiots, it was a clear fight between the 3 idiots and the virus but here in Nanban, Sathyaraj hardly come close and ends up playing a very minor role.

Perhaps the film makers with all that talent and resources at their disposal should have done something different that sets Nanban apart from 3 Idiots. Perhaps the film makers should have localized Nanban to more South Indian settings (yes, they tried but it was not enough – speaking in Tamil instead of Hindi does not really count) – perhaps even dropping “All is Well” to something more localized in Tamil.

The only saving grace in Nanban is Harris Jayaraj’s music – it is good to be heard on its own although you need to forget that it was made for Nanban (if you do that, 1 + 1 ends as something else and not 2). My favourite would be Irukkaannaa – nice touch of the various background instruments by Harris.

I have seen 3 Idiots several times before and I still love it but Nanban, despite a “brave” attempt to rekindle the magic that 3 Idiots did, failed miserably in almost every department. It’s sad because we were expecting something better and entertaining from the famed Shankar. If you want to watch any recent movie that is far better than Nanban, I suggest instead you watch Porali – starring M. Sasikumar.

Mindef Translation vs Proper English


(Countdown – 343 days to “doomsday”)

Well, it is rather embarrassing indeed.

Unspun, well known Indonesian blogger writes:-

There was once upon a time when it was universally accepted that Malaysian had a better command of the English language than Indonesians.

It wasn’t arrogance then, just a fact of life because of Malaysia’s British colonial history. For all the sins of the Brits Malaysians could be grateful to them for leaving behind an efficient civil service and a love for the Queen’s English.

But much has changed since those days. The hypocrite Mahathir Mohamad, in trying to display his nationalistic credentials changed the medium of instruction in schools from English to Malay. That, and other misguided nationalistic sentiments since then has seen the steady deterioration of the use of English among Malaysians.

One can safely argue that a certain work ethic also went out the window with the need to learn and master a language. So it seemed inevitable when Malaysia’s Ministry of Defense was red-faced recently because the language skills were so bad that they relied on Google Translate to render their copy into English.

And if one thinks that the worse is over, Nuraina A Samad further writes:-

In fact, the entire English version of its website – as of 12 noon today – is in BM. As a way of “explaining”, you’ll find the articles and writings with a preceding note: There are no translations available.

Perhaps, it’s still being done manually as explained by its minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Hard work, I reckon. What gives, man? Google translation all this while? I suggest the ministry gets the right people to do the job…Kalau tidak, one word: Malu (shame).

As much as we want to promote and defend the national language (which is a must for national unity and national identity), we seemed to have missed the greater point of the need to learn and master one of the main languages in the world – English.

For those who still arguing on using Bahasa Malaysia over the more widely used English on everything you touch, well blame it on our ancestors – they failed to wise up, start the all important Industrial Revolution, build huge & powerful army and go and colonise other countries in a larger scale. If they have done, the Americans and the Indians would have been speaking fluent Bahasa instead of English right now.

Unfortunately that did not happen – too bad for those who dislike learning and speaking in English. So whether you like it or not, the English language is here to stay and I think we need not go to the argument of why mastering the English language is very crucial in a global village these days.

And unfortunately despite the overwhelming merits, we have gone the other way and made things worse in this country – we have fooled ourselves and the future generations by deciding to teach Science and Mathematics in Bahasa Malaysia instead of the widely used English, setting off another set of problems. There is already a lack of Science & Mathematics books in Bahasa Malaysia. It seems like we may not have the right people and resources (at least in short term) to do accurate translation from English to Bahasa (or are we going to use Google Translate for that too?). The impact of this in the near future on our standard of English and the mastery of Science and Mathematics is yet to be seen (thank God for the Discovery channel for a way out).

There is nothing wrong with Ministry of Defence relying on Google Translate for the translation of webpages in Bahasa to English. But the thing is, even if one had used Google Translate for ease of translating the many webpages, surely someone in their right mind would have at least read the translated pages once, just to make sure that translation does not turn out wrong or false.

Unspun in his follow up post titled “Did Malaysia’s Defense Minister frame Google?” reported this:-

Malaysia’s Defense Minister Ahmad Zahidi Hamid, whose Ministry became the laughing stock in Malaysia because of the use of outlandish English translations on its website (e.g. Menjolok mata = poke eye) blamed Google Translate for the mistakes.

Really?

Blogger Uppercaise further asks – was Google at fault, or the ministry? Was the defence minister telling the truth, or trying to pass blame to others? This table (sourced from Uppercaise) consists of a few examples and it is evident that something is not right with the Minister blaming Google:-

The embarrassment with the wrong translation at Mindef is possibly a tip of the iceberg. What about the rest of the public administration – starting from the lowest level of public servant and all the way to the top – Ministers and Heads of Departments and CEOs. Just how many of the politicians heading key positions in the Government can really speak and write good English? Still remember this bullshit:-

However, he was forced to resign as Selangor Mentri Besar in April 1997 after he was charged in Australia over currency irregularities amounting to RM3.8mil. However, he was later found not guilty. Muhammad Muhammad Taib was cleared by the court as he pleaded that he did not understand English and therefore did not understand the currency regulations. However, in a later development, an investigative committee found that the court had erred in its judgment.

If he was not punished for the dubious RM3.8 million, given the fact that he was once the head of a state government, he certainly should have been punished for claiming not knowing English language when traveling to a country where the main language is English. Perhaps in the near future, when a politician proposes to run for public office, other than the usual meeting the minimum codes of ethics, they must be speak and write Bahasa and English well – no more Bahasa pasar, Manglish and half-cooked languages.

In the meantime, hopefully this embarrassing incident will pass over soon and Mindef is more cautious when it comes to translations in future and engages and trains its people in the proper use of the language.

And oh yes, next time when the Ministry screws up things, please don’t do any cover-ups – just admit that there is a weakness and work on a real solution to overcome them. The world is not so dumb as it used to be.

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