Expensive Pandas & Pretty Girls


Read this first:-

(RM20 million for a couple of pandas – are you sure we are not getting the real-life Kung Fu Pandas for a kill? Only in Malaysia you can get this kind of crap from those entrusted to manage and safe-guard tax-payers money. Image source: http://deseretnews.blogspot.com/)

I guess it will get crazier as we get nearer to the general election…

RM20 million Pandas

Damn, are these jokers serious…are they really serious?

Animal conservation groups just don’t understand why the government is spending RM20 million on two pandas from China when some of our own species are facing extinction. They say the RM20 million would go a long way to save our species.

“This is a case of [Malay proverb) kera di hutan disusukan anak di rumah mati kelaparan [Importance is given to outsiders rather than own family],” said Professor Dr Maketab Mohamed, president of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS).

He stressed that local species such as the Sumatran rhinoceros, the Malayan tiger, the tapir, pangolin and elephants to a certain extent face extinction. “The budget allocated to Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (Perhilitan) for its conservation efforts is hardly sufficient. For enforcement effort itself, the budget will usually run out in three months,” he said. The pandas are on a 10-year loan from China and will be housed in special air-conditioned enclosures in Putrajaya wetlands.

(Source)

And before you think that we have plenty of spare change for the 2 pandas, air-conditioned enclosures, specially imported bamboos and related unnecessary expenses, this was reported on the same day:-

The Finance Ministry has tabled the Supplementary Supply 2012 Bill for RM13.79bil to meet additional expenses on services and specific purposes not provided for under the Supply Act 2012. The Bill was tabled by Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussein for first reading with allocation for 14 ministries including the Prime Minister’s Department and the Election Commission.

(Source)

The RM20 millions on the panda may not cover the shortfall of RM13.79 billion (with subsidies taking a big chunk of it) but RM20 million (rest assured in a couple of years, this is going to balloon to another couple more of millions due to rising air-conditioning electricity bill, high price of imported bamboos, etc) is still a lot of money and these jokers have the cheek to spend it on some pandas from China? Who is going to pay for this and who is going to get a chunk of the tax-payers money – the Chinese Government or some politician linked cronies? What else this RM20 million suppose to cover – just the loan and maintenance of the pandas in the country or it is just a tip of the iceberg – we are going to get the other nonsense like an undisclosed supply and support contract coming up soon)?

And this nonsense with public funds should just stop – why we always seems to have the village idiots at the pilot seat whenever it comes to allocation of public funds for more crucial development expenses like educations (PTPTN seems to be short of money) or healthcare (remember the 1Care nonsense?) or at least on the conservation of threatened local wildlife. It is either this or having politicians and their families using public funds for their own private expenses

As I have said in the past, it has been sometime since we got someone who is bent on maximizing the income for the Government (by closing the loop-holes for corruption, tax-evasion, etc) whilst at the same time, slashing down unnecessary expenses and then with the funds available, prioritizing the spending of the limited resources for the right, non-political biased purposes (or perhaps repay some of the ever growing foreign debts)

And I don’t see why we should provide these people who abuse the public funds another lease of life in the next general elections (not that it will be easy to do considering that there are people out there who are more worried on other things but remain silent on other major issues like the RM20 million for the 2 pandas. What next? The price or the brand of underpants that the politician wears? Sigh)

(Women all around the world have fought for equal rights which includes the right to vote. The last thing they need is for some politician to come along to say that pretty girls would not vote if they have to put a mark on their finger. Image source: http://www.rense.com/general83/whywomen.htm)

Pretty Girls Logic

It has been some time since we heard something from Kayveas (ever since he lost the Taiping seat and PPP took a heavy beating in the last general elections) and unfortunately when he did, it simply sounded too stupid:-

Pretty girls would hate to have their beauty marred by indelible ink when casting their ballots during the upcoming 13th general election, said People’s Progressive Party (PPP) president Datuk Seri M. Kayveas. Addressing the Federal Territories (FT) PPP convention here yesterday, he said that beautiful young women might not want to cast their votes because of the indelible ink.

“Indelible ink lasts three months. In less developed countries where they do not have a voter registration system based on the identification card, this was used to cast the ballot,” he said. “Here we have identification cards which can be checked against the registration list.

“I don’t think beautiful girls will want the indelible ink to mar their pretty hands or nails. How are they supposed to paint their nails afterwards? They might not even want to meet their boyfriends after voting or they might not even vote. “Women should rise up and protest against the implementation of indelible ink.”

(Source)

Hmm, looks like things have not changed much since 2008.

Ever since the idea of using the indelible ink in the next general elections was mooted, there have been arguments for and against it and for those who had argued against the use of the indelible ink have argued to use biometrics instead. It is a very valid argument – after all, we have one of the best biometric systems already in place. But none of them have argued with the same “level of thinking” as Kayveas did.

Kayveas said that beautiful young women (hmmm, no handsome men?) might not want to cast their votes because of the indelible ink. It seems that being pretty is a curse when it comes to casting of votes, so implies Kayveas. Is this politician saying beautiful young women are dumb and unpatriotic just because of a mark on their fingers? It does not make any sense ( just take a look at the Bollywood actresses including the famed Aishwarya Rai voted and having a mark on their fingers here and here and here) and certainly is not a valid and intelligent reason to opt for biometrics over indelible ink. And even so, the Fatwa Committee have given their blessings and the EC have decided to use indelible ink for the upcoming general elections.

Kayveas should focus more on PPP’s strategy and relevance in the up-coming general elections. As voters, we are indeed interested to know how PPP have made the transition from the time they were “slaughtered” in the last general elections. What is their game plan considering that we had Bersih 3.0 recently and the Pakatan Rakyat have somehow became stronger since 2008? We want to hear something worth listening or is this just another chapter of the circus that we expect to see before the general elections.

Hopefully we wise up when deciding who we will vote in next election – the last we want to do is to vote one that abuse taxpayer’s money on unnecessary expenses or our sense of intelligence.

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Biometrics vs Indelible Ink


UPDATE: Read here and here for interesting readers’ comments – an interesting link on how introduction of biometrics could mean millions in revenue for those will be supplying the whole package and why it is not worth the investment in the first place.

Back to the original post

(Showing the middle finger to indelible ink? Image source: http://www.wn.com)

Read this first:-

The Election Commission (EC) will introduce the biometric voter verification system to beef up security and overcome the issue of phantom voters, which is frequently raised by the opposition during elections.

“The use of the biometric system will also help in preventing an individual or a voter from casting vote twice,” EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof told a press conference here, reported Bernama.

(Source)

And

The EC had said that it would introduce the biometric system for the coming parliamentary election.

But state DAP secretary Chong Chieng Jen thinks otherwise.

“The biometric system can still be manipulated.

“Secondly, it is too costly. The EC needs to have thumb-print reader in every stream and in every polling station.

“It’s not practical. We would prefer the EC to use the indelible ink. It is much cheaper. This is our party’s stand,” he said.

(Source)

And

With regards to indelible ink, it is used among countries which have no identification system, such as Africa and India.

They have not reached our level yet. We only have 12 million voters. Why should we turn our system backwards when we have reached this level of technological advancement? The reason there is a push for the use of indelible ink is due to fear of double-voting, but we have an adequate system to handle voter identification and it is nearly impossible for people to register twice.

We only have one identification number, and one identification card. That is why we are seriously considering the biometric system.

(Source)

Yes, biometric is more high tech and with a comprehensive national identification system as the backbone, it makes a lot of sense to use biometrics instead of indelible ink. And yet, indelible ink seems to be the right option for Malaysia right now for simple reasons:-

1. It is cheap. Certainly it is cheaper than acquiring and configuring the biometric system (with huge commission paid to crony linked companies in disguise of maintenance and other matters?) and then spending time and resources on comprehensive testing to ensure it does not go down at the very crucial.

2. It is fail-proof. Being in the IT industry for “some time” now, one thing is clear to me – no system is bug free and if you screw up on your development and testing, the system will bite you back on your backside when you least expect it. Can you imagine the horrors when you and your family members go down to cast your votes and when they scan your fingers, the biometrics system returns a reply that your name is not in the list. Compare that with a simple indelible ink – all one need to do is to ensure it is tagged on the finger of those who have voted and the same person does not come back to vote for the second time.

The indelible ink was to be used in the last general election but EC withdraw it at the last minutes, citing “public order and security issues”. But then again, the use of biometrics system does not mean the shortcomings of having phantom votes will be resolved as well. Then there is a question of whether EC, despite proposing biometrics system in the first place, is really ready to implement them in the up-coming general elections. Have they done enough testing and prepared the necessary procedures and backups to ensure that the system is truly robust, hack-proof and works well?

Bersih chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan raised concerns whether the proposed biometric system could be implemented before the next general election, and also whether the system would rely on data from the National Registration Department (NRD).

The Election Commission (EC), she said, must furnish to the public more details on the biometric system before rushing to implement it.

“The EC must explain everything in full; will it be ready by GE13?

“The data has to also be of integrity; will it rely on data provided from the NRD? If the biometric system is tied to the NRD, and if the department cannot determine which voters are deceased, then this is a grave concern,” she said during a public forum here with EC deputy chairman Datuk Wira Wan Ahmad Wan Omar.

In response, Wan Ahmad said the biometric system would be the “best way” to solve the problems concerning the current electoral roll.

“Through fingerprint scans, no two persons will have the same biometry. When it is ready, the biometric system will be matched with 12 million registered voters,” he said.

But the EC deputy head was mum when asked by reporters later whether it could implement the new system by the next general election.

“Elections are up to when Parliament is dissolved… We can only speculate, but we don’t know when that is,” he told a news conference.

(Source)

Here lies the danger of still insisting for the biometrics system before the system is really ready for implementation. This is why the call for use of indelible ink is still valid. We cannot prolong the shortcomings in the election process (one that been admitted by the EC themselves). So why not use it until the biometrics system is really ready and fail-proof?