MH370: Lesson in Crisis Management


Frankly speaking, the last thing we need now is a missing plane…

flight-mh370

(I had to pinch myself when I first heard about the missing plane. I flew MAS on a regular basis and I prefer flying on a Boeing 777 than Airbus. Having a missing plane was something that all Malaysian did not expect to hear on a Saturday morning. The disappearance remains a mystery and a multi country search to date have revealed nothing to date. Image source: http://engtechmag.wordpress.com)

There was another trip scheduled up North last weekend for some religious function. However we did not go alone this time around. We hooked up with my brother in law and his family at our usual stop at the R&R. It was still early in the morning on Saturday and we had a good breakfast to kick-start the day. We then drove in a convoy with my usual “Speedy Gonzales” brother in law in tow and keeping within my speed limits (after all, driving within the speed limit on the highway is more relaxing, safe and fuel efficient than being a speed demon on the highway).

We reached our destination rather early in the morning and my brother in law then overtook me at the toll plaza but then when we reached the house, he was no where to be seen. I called him on his phone but the line was engaged. After a while, I saw him driving up to the car porch, visibly shaken and very upset. He then told me about the MH370 that had gone missing and he knew the crew rather well (you see, he works with MAS). We then spent the whole day glued to the TV seeking the latest news for the missing MH370 (with me gladly forgoing sleeping in the hotel for any positive news on the missing MH370) and him busy with sms-es, whatapps and calls with his colleagues and friends, all for the latest news on the missing plane.

And that is the time, we got a rude wake up call on Malaysian style of crisis management. Whilst foreign news channels already putting up the missing plane as breaking news and providing more insights (CCCTV even had assembled some experts panelist in the newsroom), the local channels – TV1, TV2 and TV3 are still in the lala land and showing programs that has nothing to do with missing plane (one even had cartoon on the air). Thankfully this boo-boo did not last long (perhaps thanks to the criticisms in social medias on how the local news were sleeping on the biggest news of the year) and now we have Astro Awani providing all round news coverage on MH370.

Then as more reports – both official, unofficial and of course, an avalanche of speculations poured in widening the mystery over the missing plane, the level of crisis management by the Malaysians authorities becomes more apparent. It did not go unnoticed in the foreign media. One even mentioned:-

“They’re handling a huge global issue as if it was domestic politics,”

(Source)

But you cannot blame Malaysia for this. Well, think about it – with relatively very few natural disasters (except for the annual flash floods where crisis management is nothing to shout about – just see what happened during the flooding in Kuantan) and man made disasters (like the Highway Tower tragedy), Malaysia actually have a very few reasons to beef up its crisis management structure and readiness.

Even with this incident of a missing plane – it is still feels like one is in a bad dream. My brother in law said the same thing when he first heard the news. There was no reason to believe that a MAS plane could go missing. There were no initial terrorist threats, the aircraft maintenance level is high and the flight crew is very competent. So the initial fumble up by the Malaysian authorities in dealing with this crisis is highly understandable and slowly but surely, once reality had kicked in, you can see a proper coordination and updates coming through on the incident. In my opinion, the current Department of Civil Aviation director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman is doing a fine job handling the crisis despite unwillingly being thrown into the unknown. But that does not mean, there is no room for improvement and the missing MH370 shows we still have a long way to go.

Datuk Azharuddin

(The DCA chief, Datuk Azharuddin at the center of the crisis and he is backed up by the key people from MAS, the Air Force and the APMM. Image source: The Malaysian Insider)

Don’t get me wrong. The basic crisis management structure is there but by the time they get into the action of a proper crisis management, many days would have lapsed. This often would be compounded by having too many people wanting to take the lead and make decisions and statements which sometimes contradict each other and causes things to be more confusing. The lack of coordination between the various departments and the lack of information sharing is simply sad. Same happened during the Lahad Datu crisis and the same is happening in the current handling of the MH370 disappearance:-

The Malaysian authorities have come under fire following conflicting accounts on the last known position of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 before it went missing. The New York Times said the authorities had repeatedly said they were doing their best but Putrajaya and the airline had issued imprecise, incomplete and sometimes inaccurate information, with civilian officials contradicting military leaders.

The New York Times report said Rodzali’s statement stunned aviation experts as well as officials in China, who had been told again and again that the authorities had lost contact with the plane more than an hour earlier, when it was on course over the Gulf of Thailand, east of the peninsula. The latest information also caused an uproar on Chinese social media sites. “Malaysia, how could you hide something this big until now?” said one posting on Sina.com Weibo, a service similar to Twitter.

David Learmount, operations and safety editor at Flightglobal, a news and data service for the aviation sector, said the Malaysian government seemed evasive and confused, and he questioned why, if the remarks attributed to Rodzali were true, the government took so long to reveal evidence about a westwards flight path.

(Source)

Take the instance of the flight path of MH370. The Air Force is now coming forward (later denying it but not completely) and saying that the plane may have crossed over the Peninsula to the Straits of Malacca. Before that, it was the case of the 2 impostors (at one point, it was 4 people) and another is the actual people who did not check in. This has not been really settled with both MAS and the police seems to be making conflicting statements.

On the change of flight path, if it is true, is not only unfair to the various countries especially Vietnam who have pitched in their valuable time and resources looking out for any evidence of the plane. It is also unfair to the family and friends of the missing passengers who have kept in the dark on what had happened to their loved ones. It is also shows the state of chaos and confusion that the authorities are in even within themselves. And that is very embarrassing. On the other hand, the shortcomings and loopholes in the national security is just too glaring.

The Air Force said that they did not intercept the plane because it was not classified as hostile (I read somewhere that it is because the plane was flying away from Malaysia but once again, this information is not made known for all). Damn, didn’t these people learned anything from the 9-11 when commercial planes were used in the act of terrorism. Didn’t a commercial plane deviating from its original flight plane without a proper authorisation raised a red flag to those manning the radar station?

What about the 2 Iranians who managed to slip out using stolen passports? It was reported that these Iranians came in to Malaysia using Iranian passport but then exited using stolen foreign passports. Don’t the immigration department kept the entry records to compare? No wonder KLIA have been a haven for drug dealers and carriers and criminals from Iran, Nigeria, Latin America and other red-flagged countries. Someone had kept both their eyes closed for a long time now and let these parasites to slip in and out on a regular basis. Will the incident MH370 disappearance be the catalyst for a real change on how we can tighten the vetting of foreigners coming to country?

Anyway no point to talk about the past at the moment. We still have a plane missing and that should be the main focus for now.

I recall Datuk Azharuddin in one of the press conference as saying that they wish not indulge in speculations but rather deploy a more scientific method to identify and search for the missing plane. I liked the way he stressed the point and kept his confidence up. Of course having contradictory statements coming from his team does not help in stressing the scientific method to find the plane. This lack of information sharing and contradictory statements to the media should stop immediately. All statements should be made by only one person and that person is not the IGP, the military key officers, the Transport Minister and the various politicians who try to make their 2 cents (and their share of the limelight) worth at the time of the crisis. And that person should be Datuk Azharuddin.

And speaking of deploying scientific methods to find the missing plane, the last thing we need now is these clowns (surprisingly endorsed by the administration) to make fun of the whole incident. There is a big difference between praying in silence and making a sick circus show in an international airport and in front of the foreign media. These clowns should be arrested on the spot and thrown into a mental asylum for a long, long time. They have turned a serious search and rescue investigation into a laughing stock of the world. It was basically a show of the middle finger to the missing passengers, relatives & friends in grieve and the heroic search and rescue team from the various nations.

Let’s just hope that the plane could be found soon and we can start to investigate on what had really happened.

The Struggle


In case you missed reading this in the past weeks…

invictus2d

(Invictus – starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon and directed by Clint Eastwood. It is one movie that portrays Nelson Mandela in his best moments and no one had does it better than Morgan Freeman. Image source: http://www.dvdactive.com)

When a political party is having its usual general assemblies – you can be assured that there always be some “interesting” statements made in the general public. But then over the weekend, bored with the re-run programs that Astro was dishing out, I decided to go through my collection of movies and one stood out from the rest – Invictus. Once you have watched this movie, then what is being said below makes a lot of sense.

Umno President Najib Razak diminished the stature of a great man when he said last Saturday at his party’s general assembly that Umno fought for the “same cause” as Nelson Mandela, who had died two days before.

What same cause? Mandela fought against racial discrimination whereas Umno institutionalised racial discrimination a few decades ago and still upholds it. Mandela never advocated black supremacy, whereas Umno promotes Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy).

After he became president of South Africa, Mandela proposed reconciliation and sought to bring the races in his country together, whereas in Malaysia, Umno divides the races in order to keep itself in power.

Even at its general assembly, Umno’s delegates lobbied for the ethnocentric ‘1Melayu’ to replace the more inclusive ‘1Malaysia’, bashed the Chinese for not supporting the party at the last general election, and demanded a bigger stake in the economy, totally ignoring the reality that most of the country’s economic development is now already in Malay hands.

Furthermore, no less an Umno leader than Awang Adek Hussin, who is also the country’s deputy finance minister, proposed that private companies should declare how they support the Bumiputera agenda in their annual reports. He also insisted that, because Malays now make up almost 70 per cent of the population, the hiring policy of private companies should reflect the country’s racial composition at every level.

This is effectively saying that CEOs of private companies should also be Malay, and that their staff should be 70 per cent Malay. Indeed. Apa lagi Umno mahu? (What more does Umno want?)

On the other hand, does the civil service reflect the country’s racial composition? Are there 30 per cent non-Malay heads of department? In our public universities, are 30 per cent of vice-chancellors non-Malay?

Mandela did not take away the businesses of the whites in the name of affirmative action for the black South Africans. He allowed the whites to continue to control the economy and as a result of its being in experienced hands, South Africa’s economy grew at a steady, robust rate.

Mandela also believed in inclusiveness, in humanity and human rights. But Umno abhors lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals (LGBTs) although they are no less human beings. One delegate denigrated them by saying at the assembly that LGBTs exist so that “orang jahat (bad people) can be purged, leaving behind only the good people to inherit the earth”. How simplistically stupid, or stupidly simplistic.

Neither does Umno tolerate Shiite (Syiah) Muslims. Delegates urged that the Federal Constitution be amended to give recognition only to Sunni Islam. And Umno vice-president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, in his customary aggressive manner of winning support from the Umno flock, seized the moment to accuse the “No. 2” man in the Opposition party PAS of being a Shiite leader. He called for action to be taken against the latter. It was a clear manifestation of gutter politics posing under the guise of religion.

How, then, could Najib have had the temerity to draw parallels between Umno and Mandela? They couldn’t be more worlds apart. How could he have said what he said and not appear foolish to the outside world? He might have been able to deceive his audience of Umno members, but he cannot deceive the intelligent and discerning.

He apparently rationalised it by claiming that no race has been deprived under the New Economic Policy (NEP). He probably knows better – or else he is ignorant or dumb – but he still played to the gallery. When he asked his audience, “Were (other races) sidelined during the NEP? Did we ever hurt the livelihood of other races?”, they of course responded with a resounding “no”. This of course is an act of syiok sendiri too.

They chose to conveniently forget the millions of non-Malays who over the decades have been deprived of places in public universities, scholarships, jobs in the civil service, promotions, higher ranks in the security forces, government projects (except the big crony Chinese companies), etc.

They pretended not to know that the non-Malays most hurt by the NEP were the low-income and middle-class groups. Many of their children could not pursue tertiary education through lack of means. Those who could had parents who worked extra hard to make extra money to send their children to private institutions.

They chose to ignore the truth that the push for Ketuanan Melayu caused non-Malays to be sidelined in unjust, uncountable ways and turned them into second-class citizens. Now, to add insult to injury, they profess no knowledge of all that, still present the Malays as victims after more than 50 years of independence from the British “oppressors”, brand the “foreign races” (meaning non-Malays) as threats, lament that the Malays might become “slaves in their own land”, ask for more handouts, more projects, more quotas.

Enough is never enough. At every annual general assembly, they dish out the same laments, the same non-Malay bashing, the same demands for more opportunities while at the same time moaning that Malay entrepreneurs still need “hand-holding”. Their thinking is this: Ask and it shall be given. Just like that. No need to prove their abilities first, no need to be free of “hand-holding” first, no need to work to attain their goals. That’s the attitude they take.

And this is equated with Mandela’s struggle?

This sort of attitude exhibited by Umno is what pisses off a lot of people and makes them hate the party. If Najib’s comparison between Umno and Mandela doesn’t piss off the South African Government, well, that’s its business. But if it does, President Jacob Zuma might want to demand an apology from Najib for showing disrespect and distorting the principles of the great Mandela.

Najib cannot exploit a good man’s name to justify his party’s petty schemes.

(Source)

Ha ha, good one…

Can Never Trust Them, Eh?


Najib

(We all seriously hope Najib has a concrete financial plan for the country when it comes to empowerment of its people and the economy and not doing for the sake of his own political survival in the upcoming political party elections. As taxpayers, no one want to see their hard earned money down the toilet on short-sighted financial plans. Image source: http://www.antaranews.com)

Sorry for starting with something “international” this week – Malaysia’s political circus show hardly makes a dent on the front pages at where I am in now.

As you may be aware, President Obama and most of the western world have put the blame squarely on the Syrian Government on the recent chemical attacks. David Cameron tried to get the UK Parliament to pass a motion on Syria and failed. And despite that and rather strong opposition from the US Senate, the Obama Administration seemed bent on punishing the Syrian Government for the alleged chemical attacks on its own people (how they effectively going to do it another question). That is until Russia came up with an alternate solution and provided a way out for Obama from a rather sticky situation. The Obama’s proposed shot over the bow is really not effective unless there are troops on ground – something the American public is well aware of and do not want to do after the same blunders in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Then this came up:-

Syrian rebels in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta have admitted to Associated Press correspondent Dale Gavlak that they were responsible for last week’s chemical weapons incident which western powers have blamed on Bashar Al-Assad’s forces, revealing that the casualties were the result of an accident caused by rebels mishandling chemical weapons provided to them by Saudi Arabia.

“From numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families….many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the (deadly) gas attack,” writes Gavlak.

Rebels told Gavlak that they were not properly trained on how to handle the chemical weapons or even told what they were. It appears as though the weapons were initially supposed to be given to the Al-Qaeda offshoot Jabhat al-Nusra. According to Abdel-Moneim, the weapons exploded inside a tunnel, killing 12 rebels.

If accurate, this story could completely derail the United States’ rush to attack Syria which has been founded on the “undeniable” justification that Assad was behind the chemical weapons attack. Dale Gavlak’s credibility is very impressive. He has been a Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press for two decades and has also worked for National Public Radio (NPR) and written articles for BBC News.

Saudi Arabia’s alleged role in providing rebels, whom they have vehemently backed at every turn, with chemical weapons, is no surprise given the revelations earlier this week that the Saudis threatened Russia with terror attacks at next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi unless they abandoned support for the Syrian President.

(Source)

Well, this piece of news may just be a part of an elaborate spin to turn the public opinion against Obama’s stand on the Syrian conflict. But then again, what if it is true? Let’s just hope that this does not escalate into something bigger and cause the world oil price to spike again. It is just the excuse for the “you know who” to reduce the subsidy and take the amount saved into another wasteful adventure. And speaking of “you know who”, it was not a big surprise when Najib, after increasing the petrol price recently, turns around and announces this:-

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced a massive economic empowerment agenda for bumiputras while thanking the community for their strong support for Barisan Nasional in the 13th general election.

The Prime Minister said: “Based on the support of the Malays and other bumiputras in the 13th general election, the Government has decided to take a quantum leap to implement concrete and thorough strategies and approaches. We call this bumiputra economic empowerment, and it is to safeguard the community now and forever.”

(Source)

Be mindful that Najib is not talking about small fry money here. And it is good that the Government is looking into ways to “empower” the community (which it claims to be still weak and in need of Government help since 1969). The question is will the community get the necessary funding and help lock, stock and barrel or will it trickle down after the various fat cat middlemen, cronies and corrupt politicians have put their dirty hands in it? And what happened to all policies and money that was poured to “empower” the community in the past – money that belonged to taxpayers from various race, culture and religion? Has it gone down the drain or has it quietly went into the pockets of cronies and corrupt politician?

The BN may have announced a series of new race-based measures to boost the economic situation of the bumiputeras, but who is to be blamed for the community falling behind even after almost a half-century of affirmative action?

(Source)

It is time to ask the same question as it seem to be the same thing all over again. The PM had announced the same race based policies before and under the same whistles and bells and in the same name of championing the community but after sometime, nothing much changes and before you know it, the PM announces another race based policies and the vicious cycle starts all over again. The Government says subsidy is bad but throwing taxpayers’ money on the same failed formula and getting no positive result is worse. The BN Government have been recycling the same old policies and re-branding them with new names but be rest assured, it only fattens the already fat lazy cats.

Can you think you can trust the politicians to keep to their words this time around and whatever “empowerment” that should happen do happens? Yes? Well, think again.

Parliamentary Debate


Read these first:-

Members of Parliament are seen attending a session of Parliament in the House of Commons, called to discuss the Syria crisis, in this still image taken from video, in London

(Certainly not THE place for any funny business. The House of Commons in session and in a good mood for a debate over David Cameron’s motion on Syria. Although not all the MPs had the opportunity to speak their mind on the motion, whoever did managed, left a positive impression on the viewers. Image source: the Net)

In case you have been too busy to worry yourself with the latest on global news and the state of international response over Syria’s purported use of chemical weapon (yes, the same old “weapon of mass destruction” tone that left Iraq in a bloody mess to this day), here’s a snippet of what had happened recently in the UK Parliament:-

The British parliament yesterday rejected a motion supporting military action in Syria, reflecting deep divisions about using force to punish President Bashar al-Assad for what Western governments believe was his use of chemical weapons against civilians. The British parliament’s rejection of the largely symbolic motion proposed by Prime Minister David Cameron, which would have given authorization in principle for action subject to a second vote, was a setback for Obama’s efforts to build a coalition for action.

Cameron said afterward he would not override the will of parliament and approve such action, saying it was clear that parliament did not want to see a military strike on Syria to punish it for chemical weapons use and that he would act accordingly. The United States and its allies have “no smoking gun” proving Assad personally ordered the attack on a rebel-held Damascus neighborhood in which hundreds of people were killed, US national security officials said.

In secret intelligence assessments and a still-unreleased report summarizing US intelligence on the alleged gas attack on Aug 21, US agencies expressed high confidence that Syrian government forces carried out the attack, and that Assad’s government therefore bears responsibility, US national security officials said. Syria denies blame for the gas attacks and says they were perpetrated by rebels. Washington and its allies say the denial is not credible.

An extended parliamentary debate in London revealed deep misgivings stemming from the 2003 invasion of Iraq. After pressure from lawmakers, the British government – a key player in any proposed air assault on Syria – had promised parliament that even if it voted in favour, there would be a second decisive vote once the UN weapons inspectors report their findings.

Even that motion was defeated by 285 to 272 votes.

(Source)

Over past couple of days, the Western world seems to be on the verge of deciding to take military action on Syria (they calling it the “regime” now) and shown over and over again on the news, it had started to get a bit boring. Then I saw the debate of the motion by PM David Cameron a couple nights ago, shown live over CNN and it was simply brilliant.

ibrahim-ali-sleeping

(Live telecast of the parliament proceedings can indeed bring out some of the dumbest, self-centred and morally corrupted clowns in the open and allow the voters to see for themselves on how these clowns waste their time sleeping in Parliament. We need more quality politicians in the Parliament if we want to move the nation in the right direction. Image source: the Net)

Don’t get me wrong – I am sure that the debate skill and knowledge level of our own Members of Parliament are on par as any intelligent and skilful Members of Parliament out there (and surely that includes the UK MPs). But the problem is we don’t see this live and in complete on a regular basis. Nowadays, the only time you can watch the MPs “in action” is during the snippets during the news where the shot is edited (often to show the bad side of the oppositions) and heavily one sided. The other time would be during the presentation of the national budget by the Prime Minister although this is almost a one way argument.

Still remember the call to telecast live the parliament in session and to allow the voters to see what is being discussed and argued by their elected Member of Parliament? After a “promising” start to allow the live telecast, the idea was then shot down and the excuse that was given was that the viewers are “not matured” enough to watch the parliament in session:-

The first full day Parliament sat was fraught with controversy. Karpal Singh of the DAP delayed proceedings by protesting that several MPs had not been validly sworn in because they had not raised their right hands, a claim the Speaker rejected. Karpal subsequently exchanged heated words with Bung Mokhtar Radin, calling him “big foot”, with Bung retorting that he was a “big monkey”.

During question time, the Speaker gave one question for the Prime Minister to Razali Ibrahim and refused to permit supplementary follow-up questions, a decision Lim Kit Siang denounced as “making a mockery” of the House, branding it as part of “a conspiracy to silent the opposition MPs”. After the Prime Minister personally intervened, the Speaker permitted Abdul Hadi Awang of PAS to ask one follow-up question. Azmin Ali of PKR also protested the Speaker’s allocation of questions, arguing that as Leader of the Opposition, Wan Azizah had the right to first ask the Prime Minister a question, and that BN backbenchers received a disproportionate number of questions.

The controversial debate led Information Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek to suggest that the government would review live broadcasts of the first 30 minutes of question time because “it was misused to seek cheap publicity and raise trivial matters”. He later said that he would propose to the Cabinet that plans to broadcast future question times be shelved. In response, Deputy Speaker Wan Junaidi said it was too early to make a firm decision about the future of live broadcasts: “I feel the government should determine if this is a first-day phenomenon or if it will continue.” Prime Minister Abdullah also called for the cancellation of the live broadcasts, but the Cabinet decided to continue them for the time being.

(Source)

Perhaps it was the right to do – the need to protect the matured viewers from the immature clowns sailing on trivial issue in the Parliament is probably justified.

But somehow seeing the UK MPs in action brought back the dreaded question of why we can’t see that same flair and intelligence that was demonstrated by the MPs in UK when debating on Cameron’s motion on Syria with our own MPs here. How we can assess this when the debate of motions in our Parliament is not telecast live and it’s troublesome to read the Hansard? Don’t we have the right to see our elected ones in action and ensure that they don’t use the opportunity to sleep in the Parliament and making a fool of themselves? After all, decisions and motions that they make in Parliament affects us all.

According to Klang MP (DAP) Charles Santiago, citizens had a right to know what the people who they voted for were doing in the Dewan Rakyat.

“Parliament should be televised. It is the house of the people, and we are the people’s representatives. We come here with a mandate from the people, and we’ve taken an oath to represent interests of the country. What we do here has every bit of a link and (can result in) ramifications to the world outside, so they (Malaysians) have to know,” he told FMT.

Santiago claimed that if MPs knew they were being watched live on the air, they would be pressured to “get their act together”.

(Source)

To be realistic, it may be a long way to go before this can be done effectively. We need to start with the right quality of politicians (from BN, PR and others) who knows the subject matter well and knows what to debate (of course the Government being frank with the information would be a big factor here). And one good way to judge them on this would be see how they question and answer in the Parliament (how they work and response to their constituent would be another). Are they asking the right questions? Are they wasting the precious time on trivial issues? Are they trying to avoid answering questions that has been put forward? Does direction of their political parties drive their decisions in the Parliament and jeopardize the valid motions raised by fellow MP just because they are from the opposition? Do they sleep in the Parliament far too often?

A regular telecast of the Parliamentary debate is necessary in a matured and democratic society. It would be good if they can start with the debate of important motions that affects the nation such as introduction of new and controversial laws. Then the voters can see what the MPs had argued for and against the motion before the proposals become the law. It’s important to see whether the MPs who had argued for the law to be approved have done so because there were real merits in the new law and not because they were forced to toe the line of their political parties.

In the case of David Cameron’s motion in the UK Parliament, there were indeed merits to strike Syria militarily (David Cameron’s passionate plea to send the right message to President Al Assad before more deaths from the use of chemical weapons and the right of the international society to play it’s role was very valid) but the arguments put forward by the MPs who had rejected the motion made more sense too (MPs asked why there is a motion for military action when the UN inspectors have not completed their investigations). And learning the hard mistakes with Iraq, the motion was rightfully defeated. Having said that, there was a fair share of the telecast show time for the MPs from the opposition.

One could only dread the shock if that has happened in Malaysia where Anwar Ibrahim has almost equal air-time as Najib. Moving forward, who knows, with a greater scrutiny on the Parliament proceedings, perhaps the quality of politicians in this country may just improve. After all, we do have some of the dumbest, self-centred and morally corrupted politicians in the country wasting everyone’s time and taking the nation on the wrong side of the road. Bringing them in the open on a more regular basis and forcing them to change their ways would be most sensible thing to do.

Happy Independence Day, Malaysia…

Becoming Latin America Gangland


5-worlds-dangerous-cities_50291183e183c_w587

(Business Insider last year reported that 20 out of the top 50 dangerous cities lies in Latin America and that itself speaks for the level of criminals from that region. If left unchecked and the severity of the issue is taken for granted, this country will be overrun by them and Malaysia would end up as one of the dangerous places to be in – although this website already claim it to be. Image source: http://visual.ly)

Read these first:-

KUALA LUMPUR: Police have identified the gangs involved in the recent string of ATM break-ins here – and one of them is said to be a group of Latin Americans. City CID chief Senior Asst Comm Datuk Ku Chin Wah said police had identified more than three groups as being involved in cases reported in Kuala Lumpur so far this year. “We know how many gangs are involved but none has been arrested yet,” he said at the city police headquarters in Jalan Hang Tuah yesterday. “Some of the gangs are also involved in house break-ins.”

SAC Ku said police had identified two different modus operandi for the gangs. “One group would attempt to pull the machine using chains fastened to a truck. The other modus operandi is cutting through the machines using oxy-acetylene torches,” he added. On July 6, robbers failed to break into a cash deposit machine at a bank in Jalan Chow Kit here – the fourth such case in the Klang Valley in just four days. Three ATMs were hit on the same day in Cheras, Puchong and Kepong on July 3.

(Source)

And

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is being “promoted” as a choice destination for Latin Americans but for sinister reasons. Criminals who came here from the Latin America regions where Spanish and Portuguese are primarily spoken are said to be returning home to spread the word that breaking into Malaysian homes is easy. “They go back and tell their friends that there is easy money in Malaysia,” city CID chief Senior Asst Comm Datuk Ku Chin Wah said at a press conference yesterday.

He said the criminals entered the country with forged documents and conveniently “lost” them later. “When arrested, they say they have no documents and clamp up on the pretext of not knowing English. We have to get the help of a translator to question them.” SAC Ku said last week, the city police nabbed four Latin Americans, believed to be from Colombia, in connection with several house break-ins in the capital. The four men, aged between 19 and 28, were arrested at a condominium in Taman Desa following a tip-off from residents on Oct 19. Police recovered laptops, cameras, branded handbags, watches and four fake firearms. SAC Ku said the police were on the lookout for other gang members who are still at large.

(Source)

And

The police are tracing a Latin American woman suspected of being involved in a robbery attempt in which two of her countrymen were detained at Jalan Ampang, last Friday. Kuala Lumpur CID chief Datuk Ku Chin Wah said the woman, in her 30s, was wanted in connection with an attempt to rob a man who had just withdrawn RM30,000 from a bank about 3.30pm on June 14.

“The victim had been approached by two men in an Alphard multi-purpose vehicle on the pretext of helping him with a flat tyre. They then tried to grab his bag containing the cash. “The suspects were nabbed by a police patrol team which happened to be at the scene. But the woman, who was driving the Alphard, sped off when she saw her friends being caught,” he said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur today.

(Source)

And

Latin Americans appear to have taken over from Nigerians as the biggest foreign scammers in Malaysia. Besides theft and robbery, they are also becoming notorious for cheating people through trickery and impersonation. They are usually dressed smartly and move around in groups of more than three in flashy rented cars. Kuala Lumpur police CID chief SAC Datuk Ku Chin Wah said today that police were unable to ascertain which countries they are from as they are believed to carry fake passports.

He said they were behind the cases of automated teller machine thefts and several high-profile crimes such as the theft of medical endoscopy equipment worth more than RM4.5 million that was stolen from the University Malaya Medical Centre and two private hospitals here and in Kajang in June last year. “We are questioning them to find out more about their shady activities here. But often there is a language barrier as these foreigners claim they do not speak English.”

(Source)

Before anyone can claim that this blog is “unfairly prejudice” against foreign criminals, let’s state the obvious fact – Malaysians (from all races and not limited to a few Indian youths) still top the list when it comes to committing crime in this country. And it has been a never-ending cat & mouse game between the authorities and these criminals (sometimes we do score the big one). It remains a big headache for the country and hopefully the new laws replacing the repealed Emergency Ordinance (some claimed had caused some 2,000 EO detainees to go scot-free) will be used effectively to curtail the criminals and their criminal activities. And whilst there is no doubt that the bulk of the blame on the rising crime falls on the locals, we cannot eliminate foreign criminals and law-breakers from the equation:-

Almost five in every 10 prisoners in Malaysian prisons are foreigners. And statistics by the Prisons Department reveal that there was a 14 percent increase in the number of foreign inmates between 2006 and 2009. According to statistics by the Malaysian Prison Department, about 52 percent of prisoners in the country are foreigners. The highest was recorded in 2007 where 82,987 prisoners were foreigners as compared to 66, 272 locals.

(Source)

And

Foreigners are responsible for 30 per cent of index crime in Sabah, the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants heard today amid a perceived spike in criminal offences. Sabah police chief Datuk Hamza Taib testified today that foreigners committed 15 per cent of index crimes against locals ― including violent crimes like murder, rape, robberies and theft ― and another 15 per cent against other foreigners.

(Source)

Well, it used to be the Indonesians (they still do but now we have also terrorists in the hit list), Bangladeshi (has some of them mysteriously ended up as Malaysian now?), Pakistanis (put some of them in the same line with Afghanis waling about in “pyjamas” – I wonder what they are doing here with very little skills, money and purpose), Nigerians “students” (somehow they had gone low profile after tighten of student visa procedures and crackdown by the authorities or had they?), Iranians (they still ruling the drug cartel in the country right?), Indians (same case with the Bangladeshi but once in a while they pop their head in the drug trafficking landscape) and to some small extent the Chinese and Taiwanese when it comes to scam, crime and social disorders and now Latin Americans have join the band-wagon and in a big way too.

Malaysia (aka Truly Asia) is very attractive to all foreigners who want to sample fine accommodations, travel, food, shopping, business, education and employment in this side of the world and at times we are willing to go that extra mile to compete with other tourists spots in region (namely Singapore, Thailand and Cambodia) for the same group of tourists. Unfortunately it also had attracted a good deal of the filth from Latin America. Perhaps we should start with the very basic question – what it makes Malaysia attractive to these Latin America criminals (taking queue from the KL CID chief statement that “Malaysia is being promoted as a choice destination for Latin Americans but for sinister reasons”).

Is it because there is a lack of care and enforcement at the various entries points to a point where even a green slimy Martian can slip in without any blink from the authorities? I don’t think so – after all the authorities did a splendid job banning PKR vice president Nurul Izzah Anwar from entering Sabah back in May 2013 (and that Australian MP too) – all in the name of security of course. Or is it because it is simply easier to commit crime in Malaysia and get away with it? The police force is evidentially stretched to its limits and it is unfortunate they cannot be at all places at the same time. And the fact that peace loving Malaysians are not living in fortresses manned by heavily armed guards makes it easier for these criminals to break into houses. Whatever the reason may be, it is clear that Malaysia have ended up as a beacon for these criminals – what we are going to do about it?

To be fair, I am sure the good people from the Immigration and the Police have been doing their job well enough to stop these criminals at track. Otherwise we would have been another Latin America country where criminal gang related shooting (we are coming to this already), drugs & human trafficking, violent robberies and kidnappings would have been a daily affair. Yes, we are hunting these criminals down but it is more of a reactive action than a proactive one. It is clear that we are not doing enough – we still having missing ATM machines and all fingers are pointing back to the Latin Americans.

There are still loopholes in the system we have not patched and thus foreign criminals are still able to slip in. We have yet to ban some people from some countries and only allowing them into the country only if they have a very strong credentials and very good reasons to be in the country (buggers wanting to learn English is NOT one of them!). With biometrics in place, why we are still having problems with forged documents – it is not easy to forge finger prints when it is done in front of the immigration officers. After all these criminals may have forged documents & false identities but the system would be intelligent enough to detect the same idiots if they are trying slip-in with another name and from another entry point. Are we giving these criminals the kid glove treatment just because they are foreigners (a case of misplaced inferiority where we think the foreigners are one notch better than the locals)?

But investigating, arresting and punishing the criminals is just one part of the action to stop the criminals in their tracks. Another starts at the very entrance point to the country. Officials who let these criminals in through corruption or recklessness should be flushed out and punished. A better system should be put in place to detect forged documents – biometrics coupled with the good wealth of databases from the various law enforcement agencies should be utilized to ensure no one enters the country with forged documents and identities and if they try to do so, they should be held up immediately for suspicion of committing crimes in the country. Repeated criminals should be charged with terrorism and any locals who help them with high treason.

As I have mentioned before, we can never tolerate anyone who come to this country and abuse the entry privileges, take our hospitality for granted, use this country as transit point for all kind of illegal activities, rob & cheat Malaysians at the same time and gain millions of ringgit from their illegal activities whilst continuing to show their middle finger to the law of the country. News should travel back to Latin America countries with the strongest message that Malaysia is a tough place for any criminals and it is not easy to get away with any crimes and where for more serious ones, mandatory death by hanging awaits them.

What will take for the Government to come down hard on these foreigners? The fact that Malaysia is being promoted as a place to commit crime and one website already mentioned the country in its top list for dangerous cities should have irked all Malaysians, the authorities and the Government into action. It is not good for the country in the long run. Yes, it is a fact that we cannot fix all problems overnight – we cannot do away with act of crime so soon but we should be chipping away on the actions to be taken to curtail them. At the end of the day, crime will still happen but one where the criminal cannot get away so easily and once caught and punished to an extent that they will fear to commit any crime.

P.s. And on the notion of the Latin America criminals claiming that they do not speak English (reminds me of another case of “me speak no English“) and thus making it difficult for the police to further investigate, here’s something the police could do – take a piece of rod iron, throw it into the fire and once it is burning hot red, shove it into darkest side of their body and see how they scream in perfect English!

Smoke Gets In My Eyes, Again!


Read these first

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(The hotspots in Indonesia is a yearly affair and it some how had become “tolerable” when by right it should not be the case. The above when Singapore faced the worst from the slash & burn activities in Indonesia. Image source: http://marufish.com)

At the beginning of last week, this was reported on the state of haze in Malaysia:-

Malaysian authorities declared a state of emergency Sunday in a southern district where a smoky haze blamed on Indonesian forest fires has triggered one of the country’s worst pollution levels in years.

The worst of the smog has shifted from Singapore to southernmost Malaysia, where noxious fumes have drifted across the sea this past week from Indonesia’s Sumatra island. The Malaysian government’s index for air pollution reached a measurement of 746 early Sunday in the southern district of Muar. It was far above the threshold of 300 for hazardous air quality.

Authorities were issuing instructions for Muar’s residents to remain indoors and for schools to close, Environment Minister G. Palanivel said in a statement on his Facebook page. The district has about 250,000 people, several of whom posted photographs on Twitter showing bridges and buildings enveloped in smog that slashed visibility to barely hundreds of meters (feet).

(Source)

And since then, some schools in the Klang Valley were closed for a couple of days (my son certainly was not complaining though) with all of us breathing in and out some of the very unhealthy air todate – some spiked more than 400 on the API reading. But thanks to (man made? or perhaps God taking pity on some of us) heavy rain last week and recent days, API readings have gone down to less dangerous levels and things seemed to have come down to a more normal levels (although last Sunday the haze was back). But hopefully despite the clear skies, we will not be forgetting the culprits who caused some of the worse air pollution over some states in Malaysia last week or keeping our silence on preventing similar occurrence in the coming years.

For start, the Indonesian Government have (once again) blamed (and listed) the “Malaysian” firms involved in the opening burning in Sumatra and on paper, the Malaysian Government have asked for proof and urged prosecution against the wrongdoers but it is a big question on whether the Indonesians would be willing to do that. We are talking big players here and a very aggressive prosecution on something that could be tough to prove (as to who started the fire) could back-fire big time – big players may pull out and huge investments may drop. Think about it – if they could prosecute the culprits, they would have done so a long time ago and that would have been the end of the yearly man-made deadly haze, right?

Interestingly whilst this is still being debated between the Governments, the Malaysian firms having plantation interests in Indonesia have come out emphasizing on their zero burn policy and flatly denied that they were the culprits behind the massive haze over Malaysia & Singapore – they are putting the blame on the locals who determined to do it the easy way. That sounds reasonable but is it?

The standard response has been to blame local communities and smallholders in Sumatra for the clear-cutting and slash-and-burn tactics. It is easy to blame the small guys/local farmers/local communities, etc when they are unable to respond in the media.

Yet, an overlay map of Sumatra shows that there is a close correlation between the hotspots (where the burning is taking place) and the concession areas for oil palm plantations and timber.

So, the large companies then engage some of these local communities to clear the land for them – sort of like outsourcing the land-clearing. And then these local communities do it in the easiest or cheapest way possible. Moreover, the local people often do not have the expertise for replanting, which the large companies possess. But because it is the local communities doing the clearing, the large companies are able to wash their hands and pass the buck to the local communities.

(Source)

And it gets worse if these allegations are true:-

The whole world knows, and has for years, that the haze is not just the product of ‘burning-off’ by a ragtag bunch of small farmers, but wholesale illegal clearance of what’s left of Sumatra’s peat forests by the managements of massive palm-oil plantations.

And that many of these environmental vandals are so-called government-linked corporations which the respective ruling regimes involved are coy about naming because they and their cronies are the principal beneficiaries.

(Source)

In the end, it goes back to the issue of enforcement and the deploying the best method for clearing the land for plantation.

The issue is serious (at least for me) when you have small kids and old people at home and they start to have breathing difficulties and there is nothing much we could do about it. Mind you, 2 people died from all the haze in Malaysia, courtesy of the idiots in Indonesia taking short cuts to clear the land. One of their Ministers even had the cheek to say that the Singaporeans are acting childish on this (some politicians will remain a moron to the core no matter which country they are from). Perhaps some of you may not have small kids and old people to take care of but then what about your own health concerns in the long run? How long you think you can survive wearing mask when you go out? Don’t you get frustrated, angry and sick at the same? What about the negative impact to the country’s economy especially in the tourism sector – how many tourists you think will be willing to take a long stroll outside if the haze is thick and sickening?  In the end, will the slash & burn buggers compensate for these losses – both the economic and personal losses?

00-ria-novosti-infographics-be-200chs-amphibious-firefighting-aircraft-2010

(If there is fire and it cannot be done with simple tools, it is time to look at a more powerful one. One such tool would be the fire-fighting aircraft like the one made by Russia above – it is more effective once coupled with the traditional fire-fighting techniques on the ground. Image source: http://02varvara.wordpress.com)

The “problem” with the problem is that everyone knows what need to be done. The mysterious part would be on the Governments with all its might, expertise and will-power seems to be powerless when this happens on a yearly basis and one need to ask why the might of the law and almost unlimited resources of the Government have not been used to the fullest scale? Sucking up to the slash & burn offenders does has its limits. Instead of being reactive to the problem, why not be proactive instead? After all, trans boundary air pollution is not something one can hide under the blue carpet.

Enforcement aspect aside (it is all talk and no action here for donkey odd years), let’s start with a beef-up the fire services with a specialize team on the forest & peat fires with superior technology (like early warning systems), tools (such fire-fighting planes) and man-power all paid in advance on a yearly basis from a centralised fund (all donated graciously from all plantation owners)? Why not use the satellite imaginary system to pin-point the start of the peat and use the information to coordinate fire-fighting and enforcement on a more aggressive manner? It can be done if this need to be done.

But before that, the Indonesia Government should start with ratifying the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution is an environmental agreement established in 2002 between all ASEAN nations to reduce haze pollution in Southeast Asia. There should not be any more excuses from the Indonesians, now that the source of the haze is clearly is self made and is in their own back yard.

Time to breathe in and breathe out before the next round of haze is back

So It Ends at Lahad Datu? Part 2


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Ops-Daulat

(Now it is a whole different ball game in Lahad Datu once the military steps in with its might with surgical air strike and armoured infantry mopping and search exercise – Photo sources: the Net)

The number of our fallen heroes went up to 8 before the Government decided to end their passive approach to the whole situation and came to their senses and finally brought in the might of our trained military power as how it should have been probably after the first 24 hours deadline to surrender unconditionally.

The fact that the Government pushed the military to be second liner to the situation perhaps caused more confusion and suspicion (one that Tian Chua accidentally got entangled for the wrong reasons when he questioned the passive action by the Government) and even ex-military men started to ask questions. First from Capt (Rtd) Hussaini Abdul Karim (http://hak55.blogspot.com/):-

News photographs show some troops in bullet-proof vests but no helmets; others in T-shirts and “soft” headgear; and many not wearing bullet-proof vests. This is wrong. However, soldiers guarding the area were wearing helmets and bullet-proof vests. There didn’t seem to be any trenches or bunkers with sandbags to protect troops keeping watch.

Some of the militants have SLRs using 7.62 mm bullets and 81mm mortars. These are deadly. A hit on the arm from as far as 600m, because of its sheer power, can kill. This is unlike the bullets used by our troops which are the 5.56 mm type where sometimes even a direct hit to the body may only injure and is not strong enough to kill. If I were the commander, I wouldn’t want to position my men anywhere nearer than 200m of the enemy.

Malaysian troops, police and the army, with our strength and superiority in numbers, equipment and logistics support, should be fully ready. Strafing from the air, harassing fire using high explosive ammunition from mortars, the light and even the medium guns of the artillery regiment should have been carried out. Tanks should have been deployed.

And another from Major (Rtd) D.Swami (http://7rangers.blogspot.com/)

We should have struck using the Malaysian Armed Forces with great audacity and at will to bring terror into the hearts of these Sulu pirates who think themselves hardy warriors.

The Police did not have the assets to destroy them. Those Sulu pirates were with automatic weapons and mortars, which killed two of our people. They had frigging mortars, for f***sake!! Najib and company were handling these terrorists with kid gloves, using the Police who are trained to handle internal security situations like the Bersih or Hindraf rally.

The Police are not trained to launch attacks on enemy locations, where the enemy fires back. It is not a Bersih rally. They do not have Mortars, Artillery, Infantry Fighting Vehicles or Special Forces skilled in Reconnaissance, Air Force and Navy. One of the principles of attack is, “the momentum of the attack must be maintained”. There will be more casualties as they did not observe this principle. I doubt the Police have any inkling of that. I guess more Policeman have to die before the sheep calls in the Military.

The Military knows that. It should be their job, as it is an external threat, they are equipped and trained for this. I am sure any soldier worth his salt is raring to go. This should be handled by the 5th Brigade Commander without sparing all the niceties. In fact there is a Tank Regiment in Kota Belud, that would make it all the more easier, minimizing the Malaysian casualties and maximizing casualties amongst the Sulu pirates. We can even use the FGA’s located in Labuan. A couple of sorties with them, followed by a mortar and artillery barrage, would be nice. After which the Infantry mounted in Stormers, accompanied by tanks can finish the job. We should use these assets which are there, instead of throwing away the lives of our brave Malaysian men.

But thankfully all that nonsense that went on for 3-odd weeks (which was way too long to be dealing with a foreign force claiming a stake of the country and asking everyone to buzz off) ended when Najib called in the military and told the intruders that there is only one way out for them – unconditional surrender.

First there was the surgical bombing using laser guided bombs using the F/A 18 jet fighters and BAe 200 Hawks and then pounding of the area with artillery to clear the area for the police and the armed forces to move in and do their mopping and search mission and with that managed to stop further casualties and in the same process managed to kill off up to 52 of the armed intruders and x number of arrested/caught. More battalions were moved up to Sabah and the naval blockade tighten to prevent more intrusion from taking place. And more recently Najib also issued orders the set up of special security areas to maintain high military presence – it makes a lot of sense, we do not want another wave of intrusion taking place soon after we had finished with the clean up of the current intrusion.

The fact that we are getting more of the intruders dead or caught whilst at the same time suffering no causalities of our own simply points that we are doing the right thing at the moment. But there is still room for improvement and lesson to be learned when it comes to dealing with foreign armed intrusion.

The obvious one would be the role of the military and the police in dealing with such armed intrusion? Semantics aside (one may argue that it is still considered as an internal affair and that is why we have the police in the lead), we would not seem a positive improvement to the armed intrusion stand-off if the military (with all due respect to the brave & skilled police commandos who had endangered themselves for the country and still fighting in the front-line) have not move in with their powerful assets in land, sky and sea. It is clear that there is a confusion as who to take the lead when such incidents happened (which may have explained the 3 weeks delay nonsense) – on whether the Home Ministry or the Defence Ministry should take charge.

In this instance, the answer is crystal clear – the police may come in to cordon the area and negotiate with the intruders to surrender themselves but once the order has been issued to wipe the Sulu terrorists, they should have fallen back and leave the military to do their job. Press releases thereafter should only come from the Chief of the Armed Forces, Gen Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin or in some instances from the Defence Minister or the Prime Minister. The police will still have vital role to play with maintaining rule of order in other areas (they still have their normal policing work to do), with forensics of the dead bodies and to interrogate & process those who have been caught (and already cleared as not holding any vital information to the on-going military mission) by the military.

It will be even better if politicians with limited knowledge of military tactics and skills stay clear from the on-going military exercise and leave it to the experts to get the job done. This kind of confusion needs to be cleared before we face a similar intrusion in the future (although we hope this would be the last one). The amount of confusion (and unfounded rumours) generated at the first 3 weeks of the intrusion (and no thanks to strict media blackout) is simply astonishing.

Then we have this – one that well observed by Capt (Rtd) Hussaini Abdul Karim above and another by Singaporean former defence correspondent:-

During the three-week long standoff against a force which claims has 200 gunmen and even after blood was shed, Malaysians deployed for security duty do not seem to care much for their personal protection. Body amour is rarely seen.

When worn by some officers, the body amour appears to be of the soft body amour type which is not designed to withstand full metal jacket projectiles discharged from firearms or mortar rounds. Headgear in the form of ballistic helmets is almost never worn. And let’s not even go into protective eye wear like goggles.

(Source)

The American foot soldier in the Iraq and Afghanistan theatre of war complained the same thing at the initial start of the battle – the lack of body amour when facing a more determined insurgents and when the body counts started to rise, it took some time for the Government to act before the troops on the ground getting the right body armour. Coming back to the scenario in Lahad Datu, due to the media blackout and lack of details on the actual mission on the ground, it is possible that those in the front-line are actually have the right body armor but then if what we see on the news and media is reflective of what is our troops are using to face the heavily armed intruders, we need to revisit this if we are going to face a more sophisticated and trained foreign troops (remember, everyone with military interest in the region is looking at us on our tactics and state of readiness).

And finally there is a small incident of the media in Philippines (quoting their military intelligence) tying the culprits behind the armed intrusion with an opposition party in Malaysia. Utusan and TV3 (given this sweetener) wasted little time and jumped the gun and named Anwar was the one. I don’t think any Malaysian in their right mind (more so a leading politician at the time of general elections) would be dared to do that because it meant high treason and rightfully Anwar have denied the same and is now suing Utusan & TV3 for RM100 million for gross defamation. He should now raise the same concern to the same Philippines media and should demand them to name the opposition politicians. After all, Anwar is the Opposition Leader in the Parliament and any implication of the opposition with the armed intrusion (even if the media there did not name any names) is the last thing that the Pakatan wants at the moment. He should get this thing done and over now instead of just waiting out for the defamation suit trial date which will come over after the general elections.

In the meantime, whilst the rest of us would be looking forward to spend our time with our families on the weekend, our prayers and hopes remains entrenched with our security forces in Sabah to bring the armed intrusion to a swift end and without any casualities.