Before You Can Reach for Space…


Read these first:-

exploration_discovery

(Space exploration – this is where the future lies and we need to look beyond, move beyond our comfort zone. Image source: discovermagazine.com)

Well, let’s read this interesting piece of development when it comes to the direction of the nation:-

Malaysia now has a National Space Policy to allow the country to look into developing technologies related to aerospace and turn it into a new economic contributor.

With the policy in place, authorities can plan to develop this sector systematically and ensure it is well managed so that the nation will benefit from it.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said that fields related to space science, be it research or creating new technologies, have vast potential and he was confident that Malaysia could become a significant contributor to the world in these areas.

The Prime Minister said he was happy to read about the success story of astrophysics PhD student Nurul Adlyka Ainul Annuar, whose discovery in the field of astronomy made headlines around the world.

(Source)

Malaysia does not have an organisation as big as or as well-run as or as well financed as NASA when it comes to the space and related studies. But we do have these organisations that ensured Malaysians do not missed out on the space race:-

ANGKASA – It is our own National Space Agency and their mission is to develop the country’s potential in the space sector to support the development of the new economy, generate knowledge and strengthen the national security infrastructure.

National Planetarium – It have shows about astronomy and the night sky and also handles training in celestial navigation.

National Science Centre – out of it’s many missions under it’s arm is provide interactive science exhibits and simplify the implementation of science and technology. In essence, helping to create a scientific society.

The above of course excludes the various Ministries and other lesser agencies related to the area of education, space, science and technology. Well, in conclusion, at least we do have something – which is better than nothing. And it is good that the Government is also looking into that general direction with the introduction of a National Space Policy.

The NSC, which was set up last year, was based on the rationale that the Science, Technology and Innovations (STI) agenda could be monitored and coordinated under one council only to avoid duplication.

The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovations (MOSTI), Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau said the formulation of the National Space Policy enabled the planning and development of the national space sector to be implemented in a more proper manner for efficient management.

He said the policy formed the basis for the formulation of the Outer Space Act aimed at supervising activities and operations relating to the space sector such as the launching and operation of satellites, registration of objects launched into outer space, the operation of an Earth station and related activities.

(Source)

Frankly speaking, it is a giant step for the nation, it is the right step indeed – we need the drive towards science and space explorations. We need more people who will be able to look beyond. That’s great indeed. However, this is the Bolehland that we are talking about and in the Bolehland, we have this ugly side of religion that seems to spook people from thinking aloud and even come up with silliest stunt. I mean if we cannot kill the monster on silly things, how we even going to look into the vast area called space.

Prime Minister Najib Razak expressed his displeasure with the conduct of enforcement officers during the recent operation against traders selling the paintbrushes, saying they should have not been too hasty, The Star reported.

“I understand the issue with the paintbrushes with pig bristles but we cannot simply confiscate and compound the traders.

“We are living in a multiracial society, we have to respect other races in this country,” he said during a Chinese New Year gathering at SJK Chung Hua yesterday.

Earlier this week, the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry confiscated paintbrushes suspected to be made from pig bristles and slapped traders with compounds.

Najib disagreed with the conduct of enforcement officers and said the ministry should have advised traders to label the paintbrushes accordingly.

(Source)

And it did not take long before other silly questions started to crop up – namely on the blood and organ donation of non Muslims and for Muslims. The comments on the social media on the above was less forgiving though – especially when one hand, paint brushes using pig bristles was eagerly confiscated and made headlines but on the other hand, blood & organs of people who probably had pork for breakfast, lunch and dinner their whole life was somehow acceptable. Personally, I agree that blood donation and organ allocation should not be based on race, religion, background, social standing and others.

And there is the picky issue of Science and Mathematics not taught in English. We are still doing flip flops on what language we want to drive this nation on excelling on these 2 key subjects that plays a big role when it comes to the science and space exploration. Mind you that the example that Najib used in his speech, the PHD student, Nurul Adlyka Ainul Annuar was a not a student in local university. She is in fact currently pursuing her PhD in Astrophysics at the Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy at Durham University in the United Kingdom where I trust the language of Science is not in Bahasa. And she was not alone in making the discovery – she was part of a team that made the discovery.

The point is that before you look up and look beyond into the space, you need to look down and see whether we have a more opened and matured society that is keen to work with others and doesn’t simply dismisses an argument or a theory without the notion of religion and race. We need more enpowered people who will be able to spur the nation to greater heights, to space and beyond.

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Upholding Dharma


It is a short one for this week but it has something that our country (and its good citizen) have been lacking in some areas and should be revisited. It is also something that I have been pondering on a personal basis.

Let me start with a simple case study:-

There is a junction near the housing area where a quiet number of the residents would take to make a u-turn to go to the housing area. Well, that fine as it is quite convenient for the residents. The only problem is there is a clear sign that says no u-turn is allowed. Despite this sign board and sometimes the inconvenient (and danger) posed to other road users, the residents continue to make u-turns instead of driving a bit more further and make u-turn. It may sound trivial but perhaps the residents may not be aware, they are breaking traffic law on daily basis.

The notion of dharma comes to my mind. The concept of dharma may mean many things to different people and religion. It may even have different name in different part of the world and culture. In Hinduism, dharma signifies behaviors that are considered to be in accord with rta, the order that makes life and universe possible, and includes duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and ‘‘right way of living’’ (Wikipedia)

Before anyone accuse me of being holier than holy (ha ha), let me assure you that it has nothing to do with religion but rather a way of life, doing the right things (as oppose to doing the things right) and ensuring that we do not hurt others out of greed, anger and of course, stupidity. You can find a variant of this in every modern society, culture and religion. Morality is one aspect of it but then the question may arise – what is right for me may not be right for you. That I agree with you. But there simpler acid test for this – be guided by the existing laws and society norms.

It can simple as following the traffic rules – don’t make illegal u-turns is one example, not driving on the wrong side of the road, put on the indicators when changing lane, wear a helmet when riding a motorbike and so on. And to something more complex like managing the country in the best interest of it’s citizen. There is no law written down to managing the country in the best interest of the citizen, of course.

This is where the society norms comes in place. No society wants to be governed by greedy, dumb, wasteful, dictator alike government – unless we are in a failing states like Zimbabwe or North Korea (but not Iran as the US wants us to believe). But we are not, we are far from countries like that. We will come across many instances of doing the right things in a day if you keep an eye and ears on it.

Asking people to do the right thing is nothing new concept. It is an age old concept.

I first came across the word “dharma” when I went to India for the first time and bought the Mahabharata from a local book store there. It was on sale (most things were) and the language used in the book was not so complicated to follow (I had to do something to kill time when the ladies were out for their shopping).

The dharma is mentioned a few times in Mahabharata which itself been called the story of dharma:-

Mahabharata is one of the oldest epics of our country, nay the world. It shows how dharma and karma govern our lives. Dharma is what is the right thing to do at a given time or situation. Dharma is based on wisdom, insight and human values. Dharma has many meanings and many dimensions as well – duty, truth, non-violence (ahimsa paramo dharma) and others. It is well said that “dharmo rakshita rakshata” – dharma protects he who follows dharma. However, if you do not follow dharma, you have to reap the consequences. That is karma – you reap what you sow, sooner or later.

(Source)

Failure to uphold the dharma will eventually attract bad karma. That’s universal – if you don’t do the right things, the consequences will not be good as well. If you don’t follow the traffic rules, you may get into an accident (or cause others to get into an accident).

The same with running this country. If you don’t govern the country well, it will not prosper and developed. And so. You may have heard variations of it – Murphy’s law, Newton’s 3rd law of motion, blah, blah

Knowing what is the right to do is one thing, doing it without fail is another:-

Doing right always is a very difficult task. Many a times we do not know what is dharma, what is not. Even though we know, unless it is a very usual habit of following it, at times of great stress it is impossible to follow the path of Dharma.

(Source)

In order to do thing on a constant basis, it takes high discipline and of course practice but more importantly there must be an acceptance that doing the right things should precede doing things right. It has to be habitual as well.

Whack The Wrongdoers Hard, Please!


Read these first:-

spending__ramirez021810_full

(Here lies the problem – some people have no sense of responsibility whatsoever just because they are spending money that does not belong to them and they know that if they can waste the taxpayers money without any care or prudence, they will not be punished even if it was reported by the Auditor General. Image source: http://tarpon.wordpress.com)

I guess those who had voted for the Barang Naik (BN) politicians in the last general election must be regretting their decision now. You know, somehow, “I told you so” just doesn’t quite say it, ah? Already there are multiple news in the net on how some people in disguise of “consultants” have been taking the Government and the taxpayers for a ride but there have been only silence and inaction on the part of these politicians. The obvious ones are these:-

Hazmi sits at the top of the pyramid of greed and takes a 10% on each program cost

Under him, he has several assistants to identify runners to identify those contractors and suppliers with the right license or kepala (heading) to be main contractors or suppliers or just a mere front. At the assistants, runners, and front contractors and suppliers level, they rake in a cumulative of 20% of the program’s budget. The balance is likely to be for the real contractors and manufacturers doing the work.

To get themselves paid, Hazmi’s assistants take care of the payment but it is not paid direct but only to the front. The money due to the real contractors and suppliers is released by the front companies after deducting for everyone’s cut. It means there are paper trails everywhere. Hazmi designed the budget for programs to be usually few ringgit short of RM5,000 or RM100,000. Above that, the control system is stringent and manipulable.

If this does not make your blood boil, we do not know what else.

(Source)

And this:-

Two DAP lawmakers want the Education Ministry to explain why it spent RM20 million hiring a private consultant to prepare the National Education Blueprint when it could have been done by “capable personnel” within the government.

Describing the RM20 million as a complete waste of taxpayers’ money, Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming and Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari said the management consultant, McKinsey and Co, should not have been hired as the company was a general management consultant and did not specialise in education.

(Source)

And timing could not be better to dig up more crap from current Government’s total lack of transparency, enforcement and punishment of the wrongdoers. It has become a sheer wastage of taxpayers fund on a regular basis. The recent publication of the Auditor-General’s report was nothing new and only adds to the “good name” of the current Government. If the half-past six politicians are still under a delusion that everything is still OK in the Bolehland and they can sleep in peace at night, let me tell you that the AG’s report is very, very damaging. A responsible Government would have come in the open to admit the findings and announce strong measures to curtail them. Politicians who care about this nation will not sleep until they had made enough noise for the wrong doers to be caught and punished and existing laws & procedures tighten to avoid a repetition in the future. Unfortunately, in reality (and predictably), nothing have been said till now and everything being kept as hush, probably hoping the taxpayers and the opposition will soon forget about the findings.

The malpractices highlighted in the Auditor-General’s report keep repeating because of inadequate planning in procurement, poor drafting of specifications and lack of monitoring and evaluation, said Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas).

To address this, Ideas chief executive officer Wan Saiful Wan Jan has suggested that curbing political interference and using open tender systems would help in plugging the inefficiencies in government procurement which has resulted in millions of ringgit being wasted.

He cited examples in the 2012 AG report which had resulted in wasteful spending, such as the 20 wall clocks which were bought by for RM3,810 each when it cost RM100 each and the three A4 size scanners bought for RM14,760 each which was supposed to cost RM200 each.

He said Ideas was now conducting a study on transparency in how government agencies and department carry out their procurement. “These problems are repeated because there are inadequate procurement planning, poor drafting of specifications, insufficient use of competitive tenders and lack of monitoring and evaluation.

(Source)

Shouldn’t inadequate planning in procurement, poor drafting of specifications and lack of monitoring and evaluation which have been highlighted many times before in the past AG reports been resolved by now? Don’t each Government departments have some kind of operation guide and standard operating procedures? Don’t they have their internal audit processes to follow and meet? Don’t tell me that we are going to pay millions to some foreign consultants to propose the same thing? And if nothing been done in the past, then what difference it makes now? As long we don’t see the wrong doers and those mismanaged millions of taxpayers’ money punished and held accountable, we going to have the same problems reported year in, year out.

To add further, Malaysia have now been named as the most corrupt country in the world – I am sure some thick skinned politicians would have been very happy with this kind of achievements (they probably have dismissed it as an opposition tactics instead of seriously looking into the possible truth). However it was not a big surprise though – it was just a matter of time before we got that title. The sooner the Government wakes up from its slumber sleep, it is better for the rest of us.

Despite Malaysia’s high-profile anti-corruption crusade, half of the corporate executives surveyed by a global corruption watchdog believe that competitors have obtained business in the country through bribery.

Transparency International said Malaysia scored worst in the 2012 Bribe Payers Survey. It asked nearly 3,000 executives from 30 countries whether they had lost a contract in the past year because competitors paid a bribe, and in Malaysia, 50% of them said ‘yes’. Second on the dubious honor roll was Mexico, which was at 48%.

(Source)

And this is where race based NGOs such as Perkasa show their sheer ignorance and dumbness. They jump like their balls been run over by a steamroller when common Malaysians question the need to prolong race based policies and “giveaways” in the name of “empowering” the community economy, knowing very well that such policies have been manipulated to enrich a few and their cronies in past and continues to this day. But the same NGOs had said nothing or jumped in protest when millions is wasted by lack of enforcement and corruption – doesn’t the same community set to lose a lot more if such leakage is not stopped and the wrong-doers are not booked to stop the repeated wastage? Or are they simply going to ignore this just because those who cause such leakages and do nothing to curtail the leakages are from the same community? It looks like that is the case many times over. No wonder whatever they say and do does not carry any sense of creditability and is a total waste of space.

And when the AG report bring the crap into the open, instead of accepting the hard cold fact and whack the wrong doers hard & ensuring that this will be the last time such incident happens, sadly, some politicians (never mind if they are dumb enough to be caught on video supporting criminal gangs and admission of breach of rule of law) now tries to even justify the wrong doing:-

On Friday, when asked by the press about the firearms mysteriously missing from the police armory, as discovered by the Auditor-Genera, Zahid was quick to pitch himself as the champion and defender of the ‘maligned’ police force.

Insisting that the weapons ‘lost’ by the police were due to human error and not foul play, Zahid rather high-handedly forbade any more discussion on the matter. He even picked on and publicly berated a reporter to emphasize his point.

“I think this is ridiculous behavior from a minister. It is blatantly self-serving. As the Home Minister, the police have to answer to Zahid in many matters but who is he to forgive their wrongdoings. Firstly, this was reported by the Auditor-General, not fabricated by the Opposition. Secondly, have the police carried out an internal probe, why are the findings not released,” Opposition MP for Batu Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.

(Source)

And it seems like the whole of the Government seems powerless (no thanks to their own shortcomings) to bring about the drastic measures needed to stop the rot for once and for all:-

The Auditor-General’s report for 2012 is alarming. And this is so not only because it exposed huge wastage committed by government departments last year, but also because nothing seems to have changed all these many years.

Year after year, the A-G tells us of cases of improper payment; of purchases made at astronomical prices; of unreasonable project delays; of poor asset management; of non-adherence to procedures, etc, etc. But year after year, nothing is done to address the shortcomings.

It seems as if our civil service just continues to plod on, continues to waste, continues to be inefficient, continues to make corrupt transactions. And the overriding controller – i.e. the Government – just lets it be.

The Government knows from the A-G’s reports that corruption is rife in the civil service, but it probably realises it doesn’t have the moral standing to haul in the culprits. After all, the civil servants are following the example of the country’s leadership. And since the Government has also not shown itself to be accountable for a lot of things, how can we stop the rot?

Worse, our civil servants seem to have acquired a tidak apa mindset because the money that is being wasted, that it being improperly used, that is going into the pockets of some of them, is not theirs. When I was in school, we used to characterise such an attitude with the jeering taunt: “You think this is your grandfather’s money ah?” It’s still applicable here and now.

(Source)

I say this again and I have said it many times before – if the Government feel that they need to increase the taxes and reduces the subsidies just to ensure that they have enough to keep the country going, that is fine and fair. But what is the point of the people need to pay more of everything if the blatant waste and mismanagement by the Government itself on the other hand remains high and continues to bleed the nation of its resources. After all, if unnecessary expenses are not curtailed (spending RM3,810 for a RM100 clock for example), the Government will have no choice but to reduce the various subsidies, borrow more money and keep taxes high. At the end of the day, the rot must stop. The “tidak apa” attitude must stop. The blatant wastage of taxpayers’ money must stop. The super unbelievable leniency on the wrong doers must stop. The day of hiring thirsty vampires to guard our blood banks must stop.

Those who commit wastage and corrupt must be charged with criminal breach of trust, bank accounts frozen, their property seized and they are made to spent a good number of their years behind bars. Investigations on the paper trails must be made so that all those involved one way or another are caught and punished. Those politicians who allow (by action, omission or sheer stupidness) this to continue to happen must face the same consequences. Punish the wrong-doers at both ends without any fear or mercy. Malaysia does not need these traitors running the show – we are becoming champions of the world for wrong reasons. The AG have done a very good job highlighting the shortcomings in managing taxpayers funds. The only thing that is needed now is a change of attitude and political will power to take out the cane and start whacking the wrong doers hard so that the rest will be more careful when dealing with taxpayers money. If this failed, then it is evident that the Government itself have failed the trust of the people and is corrupt to the core and thus, must be removed in the next general election.

Can this be done now and without the “ifs and buts”?

Most Expensive Food Colouring


Read these first:-

de5ed5d592987b2966d20d6dfb21457b

(In the end, it was nothing but just a food colouring? Didn’t we paid RM7.1 million for it? Cartoonist Zunar – Malaysiakini say it all)

Here’s one to digest for your lovely weekend.

It is an interesting article in Malaysiakini (reproduced at Anwar Ibrahim Blog) on the issue of indelible ink used in the last general election. Considering that there has been a greater call for the EC chief to step down and too many complaints against the quality of the indelible ink in the last elections makes this a good reading.

The interesting snippets from that article was on the chronology of event and the excuses given by the EC on whether to use or not the indelible ink and the quality of the indelible ink against the various complaints from the voters & oppositions alike:-

In 2008, the use of indelible ink in GE12 was stopped at the last minute. At a forum on ‘Free and Fair Elections: Reality or Illusion?’ in Kota Baru in January 2012, the former EC chairperson Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman claimed that the EC was banned from using indelible ink in GE12 because it contravened Article 119 of the federal constitution.

PAS vice-president Husam Musa had challenged this and said that Abdul Rashid had announced on national television then, that the ban was for security concerns. Abdul Rashid had claimed that various people had obtained a similar ink and were using it to trick rural Malaysians into staining their fingers before voting.

Former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz confessed that it was he who had prevented the use of the indelible ink prior to the 2008 general election.

He cited constitutional concerns and the worry that Muslims would be unable to perform the proper ablutions for prayers. He denied Husam’s claim that the Fatwa Council had endorsed the use of indelible ink in the 2008 general election.

On May 1, complaints about the indelible ink prompted EC secretary Kamaruddin Mohamed Baria to say that tests had shown that fingers painted with ink from shaken bottles lasted longer than the ink from bottles which had not been shaken.

In an interview with the Straits Times of Singapore on May 12, EC chairperson Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof claimed that silver nitrate in the ink was dangerous, and that the Health Ministry had warned about the possible damage to kidneys and risk of cancer. Meanwhile, a mainstream paper claimed on May 29 that several people had been harassed for lodging police reports on the indelible ink.

On June 6, Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam scotched Abdul Aziz’s claim and denied issuing a report about the harmful risks to health from silver nitrate.

On June 17, Abdul Aziz then blamed God for the poor performance of the ink. The ink had been tested prior to GE13 and he said: “On the much-awaited day, the power of Allah is greater when the ink could disappear after being washed several times. Where is the mistake?” [sic]

On June 21, the EC vice-chairperson Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said a special internal team would be formed to discover if the ink had suffered from internal sabotage.

On June 26, Shahidan Kassim, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said the ink was actually food colouring. He said, “No chemicals were used in the ink, they were instead replaced with food colouring ingredients which were approved.”

On June 27, the Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said that Malaysia is “not a Third World country” and so does not need indelible ink in its elections. He said that Parliament agreed to its use because “the opposition wanted it”.

By June 28, various NGOs were demanding details of the supplier of the ink. Despite the lies and furore surrounding the indelible ink, Wan Ahmad said that the ink would be used in the Kuala Besut by-election in Terengganu.

Indelible ink, which will last for more than a week, will restore democracy to Malaysia and smite the foes of the rakyat.

(Source)

So did the EC or did they not screw up things with the indelible ink in the last general elections? Did we end up paying through our noses for something that is not? And of course, the final say in idiocy came from the politician who said that the Parliament agreed to its use because “the opposition wanted it”. The opposition wanted a lot of things before the election but did the Parliament or the Government agreed to it? Think about it.

Have a good weekend!

GE13: Manifestos, Fantasies & Imaginations


najib_sweets

(Santa Claus of a different nature – he seems to be promising a lot of things to many sector of the community but does that promise comes with a catch? Where the millions of ringgit is coming from and from who’s pockets?)

Malaysians will go to the polls on May 5 and it does not matter whether you will vote for BN or PR. What is important is that on May 5, you wake up on time and go to the polling station and vote someone. Remember it is your duty as the citizen of this country and it only comes once in 5 years.

Election Santa Claus

As we move closer to this date, the level of insanity seems to be increasing as well – more sex videos exposures (which seems to be more important than corruption by millions of ringgit for some morons) and Najib continuing his Santa giveaways – plucking millions from thin air and promising to deliver them only if people are “grateful” when it comes to casting their votes.

Some even get some last minute “miracle” granted by BN politicians:-

After 20 years of struggle, prayers were finally answered when an 85-year-old Chinese temple in Minyak Beku was granted ownership for the piece of land it sits on. The land title for the 0.696ha plot, including a 280m access road to Persatuan Penganut-Penganut Agama Buddha Ching Boo Tian in Jalan Segenting here, was approved by the Johor Government recently. “We could not have done it without MCA and the Mentri Besar,” he said at the thanksgiving dinner organised by the temple, which was attended by more than a thousand people here on Sunday.

(Source)

Should temple be “grateful” (Najib’s buzz word of the day) for the recent approval of ownership or more rightfully be angry that it took the Government over 20 bloody years to approve the ownership and it only happened because of the upcoming general elections and not for other matters?

And speaking about being grateful, did you read about Hindraf’s 180’ degree turn on their relationship with BN? P Waythamoorthy now insists that the community’s welfare will only be cared for by the ruling coalition BN and not Pakatan Rakyat. This is same man who just before 2008 blamed UMNO and BN led Government for the dire state of the Indian community and caused many to take to the streets to protest. This is the same man when things got more tricky (when the rest of the key leaders were caught under ISA), fled to overseas. Now he turns around and says only BN can take care of the community? That’s interesting. I surely hope that he has forgotten the fact that Najib have been longing for the lost Indian votes and will be willing to promise the sky as long he gets the crucial votes in the coming election – nothing more, nothing less. After all, if BN had been serious in dealing with the community’s issues, it would have acted on it a long time ago – after the Hindraf rally and not at the eve of a general election. Why it have come to a point where Hindraf have to come out with a blueprint for the community and asks both BN & PR for endorsement? As the famed comedian Goundami would say – “arasiyalila ithellam saatharanam pa” (it is all normal in politics), uh Waytha?

And looking at the bigger picture, doesn’t the very promise of goodies in return for votes contravene the law?

Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) today chided the federal and state governments for enticing voters with cash handouts and other freebies in what the corruption watchdog said is a blatant breach of electoral laws. The local branch of Transparency International also criticised the election regulator and Malaysia’s graftbusters for failing to clamp down on politicians in Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) who have been giving cash and vouchers and promising perpetual aid such as bonuses, cheap homes and free water with their eye on the bottomline in the May 5 polls. “Caretaker governments and candidates are breaking the Election Offences Act 1954 Section 10 which states all these gifts, loans, offers, promises, pronouncements are to procure votes,” Josie Fernandez, TI-M secretary-general, said in a statement.

(Source)

Is someone sleeping on the job then? Or it is just business as usual in the Bolehland?

The Invisible Bogeyman

But in the midst of intensive campaigning, vote buying election promises and stiff fight for seats, it was not a surprise that we have this kind stupidity cropping up:-

A Lim Kit Siang win in Gelang Patah will result in racial confrontation, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today, arguing that Chinese-Malay economic partnership will be ruined. With weeks left to Election 2013, the former prime minister continued his doomsday prediction by hammering on the opposition leader with his warning that Lim’s victory in the southern state would trigger racial clashes that would replace the existing cooperation between the Malay majority and Chinese community. “Kit Siang is going to bring about conflict and antagonism between the races, to wage the Chinese to dislike and hate the Malays,” Dr Mahathir wrote in his chedet.cc blog.

(Source)

As usual, Dr M is not far from talking nonsense and jumping on his dumb cheap antics of blaming the invisible Chinese bogeyman and culture of fear. When we will ever come to a stage that a vote for Chinese Malaysian (or a Malay or a Indian for argument sake) at end of the day is a vote for a Malaysian? Hasn’t the ghost of May 13 and culture of fear put to rest a long time ago? Why there will be racial confrontation when Lim Kit Siang is just one man and it is not like he has not run for Parliament and won many times before?

So, why need an invisible bogeyman to burn down the country when you can have the same with this kind of politicians going around promoting culture of fear and disunity? Najib has only kept mum on this which will not reflect well on his overused slogan “1Malaysia”. One thing is for sure – we will never achieve a developed nation status by 2020 – not when we still have this kind of people asking us to distrust fellow Malaysians. We must reject anyone who are willing to do anything just to win the elections and to remain in powers (even it means causing racial confrontations when there is none in the first). Dr M should look back into his dictionary and understand what the word retirement really means.

Election Manifesto

And of course, you have political manifestos flying around with some claiming each other as unachievable. Fine, manifestos may not be contract cast in stone and to some, it is nothing but a convenient way to let the voters to know on what the party intends to do – ideal intentions that may change over time due to political pressures, financial constraints and of course, dirty politics. So, it was not a big surprise when Najib claims BN’s recently launched manifesto as a serious matter but turns around and say that Pakatan’s manifesto as a mere fantasy and imagination:-

Najib said as the manifesto or pledge was an important document, it must be launched at a gathering and broadcast live so that the people throughout the country could appreciate the content of the manifesto. “They can study what is the commitment of the BN to the people,” he said. “Let the opposition say that the manifesto is not a pledge, if it’s not a pledge, why present a new manifesto, what’s the point of presenting a new manifesto. “To the BN, the manifesto is a serious matter,” he said. On the other hand, Najib criticised the opposition and described their manifesto as a ‘fantasy and imagination’ by making all kinds of promises as they liked.

(Source)

Before we precede even further, bear in mind that manifestos – whether it is from BN or Pakatan, is nothing but a mere intention of the various political parties on what they may do if they are voted into power. It is not formal contracts that one can sue when it is not carried out – otherwise BN would have been riddled with lawsuits for all these years they have been power. Strip away the icing, sugar-laced thumbs up and “wow” statements (especially from pro-BNs sites & BN politicians) in the media and re-read BN’s manifesto in a bigger picture and you may find BN’s manifesto itself suffering from the same problem of mere fantasy and imagination.

Let’s take some for analysis:-

  • Increasing BR1M up to RM1,200 for households and RM600 for singles while maintaining it on an annual basis

(BR1M – is it a sincere safety net for the poor or a sweetener for the people to vote for BN? You tell me. The main contention of BR1M is a. where does all the money is coming from? The final damage is not small – the first BR1M cost the taxpayers about RM1.92 billion, while BR1M2.0 cost around RM3 billion and now Najib is talking about an annual BR1M of RM1,200 per person which will cost the taxpayers almost RM5 billion annually. and b. it is clear that RM500 is not much for a family to use in the long run. So what is the long term solution for the lower income citizens? Simply throwing money without any long term plan is wasteful and is bad governance.)

  • Expanding the Rapid Bus System to every state capital, complete with facilities for the aged and disabled

(Well BN has been at this problem for x amount of years now, laying down the same old solutions for same old problems but nothing has been so simple and nothing has been so straight forward. Deployment of RAPID buses is nothing new but will the control of the route and some part of management be allowed to be delegated to the individual state governments for greater efficiency? Will there be a decentralization of the public transport management in the country which also includes the grant of license and permits?)

  • Solving the treated water supply problem in Selangor, the Federal Territory and Kelantan. Extending the supply of clean water to another 320,000 homes throughout the country

(Then there is always of dangling the issue of water and electricity – the basic needs of any voters and is an issue where one could not afford to take it so lightly. But the question that needs to be answered is this – do we really have an issue to contend with or it is an issue played out for political reasons? What about investing on alternate source for electricity and backup plans for potential blackout?)

And lastly, probably the dumbest of all (worth to be classified as the mother of all fantasy & imagination)…

  • Empowering MACC through the establishment of a Service Commission whereby the power of recruitment and service matters will lie entirely with the commission. Giving equal emphasis on investigations into, and action against, bribe givers and receivers

(Why the “wayang kulit” on MACC? After Taib’s show of the middle finger to MACC and no action whatsoever on the highly corrupt even after Global Witness’s video revelation, it would have been more proper and acceptable if Najib had instead proposed to shut down MACC permanently. MACC simply lacks the independence and prosecution powers to be effective against corruption. And to maintain MACC toothless is simply means an endorsement on the corruption and abuse of powers. If Najib wants to salvage his past promise of fighting corruption in this country should instead granted MACC wider powers which includes prosecution powers)

Winnable Candidates

It’s too bad that Samy Vellu was not named as a candidate for up-coming election despite naming himself as a winnable candidate (something that theSun columnist labelled as a Bollywood comedy) – it would have been interesting to see what would have been the outcome – whether MIC have indeed regained Indians’ support to the party. And speaking about winnable candidates, as you may be aware, Najib have dropped some from the list – the one we are happy to see to go would be Shahrizat Jalil and Ng Yen Yen but I won’t be so cheerful if I were you. Najib still carrying a substantial baggage of candidate with tainted history and as we have seen in the past, there is a good chance of those dropped from the list coming into the limelight through the “back-door”.

And one that Najib promoted for this election is Zulkifli Noordin who will be running for Shah Alam. Yes the same fellow who insulted the fellow Malaysians who are Hindus. The same fellow who stormed the Bar Council inter religion discussion back in 2008. Is Najib truly serious about getting the Indians to vote for BN? If he can’t get a better character than Zulkifli Noordin for his winnable candidate list, then that says a lot of the quality of people running loose in BN. If this is the best he can do to show that BN have changed, it is clear that it does not deserves our votes. At end of the day, nothing but a complete change of the government is what this country needs to stop the high wastage, blatant corruption and more importantly to promote a greater unity and fair-play in this country. Make your vote count for the right reasons.

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?

Timeless Code of Conduct


Here’s something for the start of the week, something that everyone can embrace to (without the need to change religion)…

(Image source: http://antiquatis.org)

Lies within the Vedas are the common-sense code of conduct recorded in the Upanishads, the final section of the Vedas. The code of conduct dictates 10 restraints, namely:-

The first restraint, Noninjury (ahimsa) – not injuring or harming others by thought, word, or deed

The second restraint, Truthfulness (Satya) – refraining from lying and betraying promises

The third restraint, Nonstealing (asteya) – neither stealing nor coveting nor entering into debt

The fourth restraint, Sexual Purity (brahmacharya) – divine conduct, controlling lust by remaining celibate when single leading to faithfulness in marriage

The fifth restraint, Patience (kshama) – restraining intolerance with people and impatience with circumstances

The sixth restraint, Steadfastness (dhriti) – overcoming non-perseverance, fear, indecision, inconstancy and changeableness

The seventh restraint, Compassion (daya) – conquering callous, cruel and insensitive feelings toward all beings

The eighth restraint, Honesty (arjava) – straightforwardness, renouncing deception and wrongdoing

The ninth restraint, Moderate Diet (mitahara) – neither eating too much nor consuming meat, fish, fowl or eggs.

The tenth restraint, Purity (saucha) – avoiding impurity in body, mind and speech

Read here for more explanation and details

Vedas are at least 4,000 years old and known to be one of the oldest sacred texts and despite the age, the code of conduct laid in the Vedas is pretty much still relevant for today.

I guess it is because at end of the day, we are only humans. Similar code of conduct is also found in other religions – it is just a matter whether we want to understand and embrace them.