The Case for Tommy Thomas as the next AG


Note 1: Got this from OutSyedtheBox and it makes alot of sense
Note 2: It is reproduced verbatim (I only edited the layout for clarity) – the authentication is not confirmed

(After the major screw-up and yet to accept the reality of things, the guy on the left does not have enough trust and credibility to continue to be the Attorney General. The country needs a change – a drastic change that it. Image source: Free Malaysia Today)

DOES THE AG NEED TO BE A MALAY OR A MUSLIM? DOES HE HAVE TO ADVISE ON SYARIAH LAW?
By GK Ganesan Kasinathan, Advocate and Solicitor, Kuala Lumpur
03 June 2018

The nation is trundling towards a calamitous constitutional misunderstanding. Someone has to do something about it and set matters straight. Let us identify what is happening. A debate has begun to rage. It concerns the identity of the person who should be the next Attorney General.

It is about constitutional provisions regarding what characteristics the Attorney General should have—and whether the current nominee, Mr. Tommy Thomas has them.

Two conflicting ideas

At the heart of the debate are two conflicting statements:-

  • The first is the altruistic proposition that certain quarters ‘have no objection at all to a non-Malay being nominated as AG.’
  • The second is an opposite argument. It is that the AG should be ‘in a position to advise the palace on Syariah matters.’
  • And the third proposition, being a conclusionary one, is the argument ‘… that therefore a judge, or a retired judge of the Court of Appeal or the Federal Court ought to be appointed as AG.’ These arguments are deeply flawed.

Here are the reasons..

These arguments have no constitutional basis at all. In fact, the Federal Constitution says the opposite. Why is that? The rakyat should be allowed to interpret the Constitution. The rakyat should take part in this debate. They should look at the Constitution and inform themselves of the important aspects of this confusion. They should be taught to interpret the Constitution. It is their right. Lawyers should not be the only ones telling people what the law is.

So let us look at the Constitution.

The starting point is Article 145.

Answer to the claim AG ‘must advise on Syariah law.’ The first and most important opposition to the Administration — and Mahathir — comes from the argument that the ‘AG must be able to advise the King on Syariah matters’. This demand contradicts Constitutional provisions. This is because the Constitution exempts the AG from such a requirement. You will understand this readily, because the relevant part of Article 145(2), states:

– ‘145(2): It shall be the duty of the [AG] to advise the [King] or the Cabinet or any Minister upon… legal matters, and to perform… duties of a legal character,… and to discharge the functions conferred on him by or under this Constitution or any other written law.

So what it says here is that the AG must discharge the duties that the Constitution asks him to. What power does the Constitution give him? That is explained by Art 145(3). It states:

– ‘145(3): The [AG] shall have power, exercisable at his discretion, to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence, other than proceedings before a Syariah court, a native court or a court-martial.’ Clause 3 prohibits the AG from dealing with proceedings before Syariah Courts and Military Courts.

As far as Syariah matters are concerned the AG has no role. No one would disagree that the King must have the very best Syariah advisor—an expert. Were previous AGs experts on Syariah Law? Was Gani Patail an expert on Syariah law? Was Apandi? How come no one objected then?

So how can the AG be now compelled to perform a duty — or exercise a power — that the Constitution has taken away from him? Why is the AG now being asked to advise on something that the Constitution tells him is none of his business? The person to advise the King on Syariah law cannot be a retired judge.

The fifth argument is that the nominee for the AG ‘must be either an existing or a retired Federal Court judge or a Court of Appeal judge; for, that way he can render legal advise on Syariah matters’. This argument is a non-starter. Again there is a clear instruction from the Constitution on this.

Apart from informing the AG what matters over which the AG has powers to act on, the Constitution goes one step further.

Secular courts are non-Syariah courts: i.e. the Magistrate Courts, Sessions Courts, High Court, Court of Appeal and the Federal Courts: [Article 121 defines the secular courts].

The Constitution expressly removes from all secular courts any power that is only a Syariah Court can exercise.

Clause (1A) says:- ‘The courts referred to in Clause (1) [read, ‘secular courts’] shall have no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts.’

The Syariah judicial system works under a different set of laws. They have their own courts, their own judges, and their own lawyers. They are independent of the Judiciary.

Therefore if Syariah law advice is needed, their Highnesses have ample Syariah resources available at their disposal. If so, how can candidates be chosen from the retired or existing list of the secular Federal Court or the Court of Appeal judges? From them have been removed the power to deal with Syariah matters. It stands to reason that they, no matter what race or religion they profess, would have had no formal legal training on Syariah law at all.

So why ask to choose from a group who possess no Syariah knowledge at all? So the argument that the AG ‘must be able to advise on Syariah matters’ argument is a red fish! It is simply not true.

What qualities must a candidate for an AG have?

The next question to ask oneself is, who can be appointed as the AG? Article 145(1) answers the question in this way:

– ‘145(1): The Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint a person who is qualified to be a judge of the Federal Court to be the Attorney General for the Federation.’

Note the phrase, ‘a person qualified to be a judge of the Federal Court’. Who is that?

That is explained in Article 123. It prescribes that a nominee for an AG must be (a) a citizen and (b) for the last 10 years before his appointment he shall have been ‘an advocate’; or ‘a member of the Judicial and Legal service’ (this differs from judges in the Courts – do not confuse them as one), or a mixture of both. It does not mean he must be a Federal Court or Court of Appeal Judge. He must only be one who is ‘qualified to be’ one.

From which pool would you choose your AG, given the choice?

As a matter of choice where would you choose the AG to come from? Let us examine the pool of resources available to the Prime Minister. Suppose there are about 1,800 lawyers in the AG’s Chambers [AGC]: that is about right. Suppose we assume that at least 500 AGC lawyers in AGC have crossed the ‘10 year practice’ mark (the numbers could be far lower]. Then at least 500 persons qualify to be the AG.

Now, the Malaysian Bar has ten times more lawyers than the AGC. It had, at the latest count, over 18,000 members. Of that number [I extrapolate] there are over 9,000 lawyers who qualify under this Art 123 — they have crossed the ‘10 years of continued practice’ requirement. They are all citizens.

Go now to the judiciary as a source. If you add the total number of judges in the Federal Court and the Court of Appeal that does not cross 45. A great proportion of those judges are from the AG’s Chambers: some say as high as 90%. As a matter of choice, where would you choose the AG from? From the largest pool of 9,00 members, or a lesser pool of 500 lawyers from AG’s chambers, or from a smaller pool of 45 judges from the Judiciary— the latter of which is already under attack?

Equality of all candidates not matter of race

The sixth point is, the Constitution, which upholds equality as its central core (read Article 8 of the Constitution), does not prevent a non-Malay from being appointed an AG. If our forefathers thought it necessary, they would have inserted that proscription into the Constitution. Had they done it, that would have been against all known conventions of human rights. They have not.

Our forebears were reasonable people. They saw this issue and catered for it. The framers of the Constitution were men of great foresight. So why manipulate that intent by specious arguments of non-existent ‘conventions,’ conventions which are against human rights?

So there is no racial restriction in the Constitution. So that argument too goes out of the window.

The King ‘shall appoint’ Clause (1) of Article 145 states that His Majesty the King ‘shall’ on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint as AG a person proposed by the Prime Minister. This is what it says:

– ‘145(1): The yang di-Pertuan Agong shall, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint a person who is qualified to be a judge of the Federal Court to be the Attorney General for the Federation.’

Note the word, ‘shall’. It is mandatory.

The binding nature of the Prime Minister’s proposal is buttressed by an explanatory clause in Art. 40(1A): It says:

– ‘In in the exercise of his functions under this Constitution or federal law, where the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is to act in accordance with advice, on advice, or after considering advice, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall accept and act in accordance with such advice.’

The phrase ‘shall accept and act in accordance with such advice’ points to a mandatory requirement. There is a reason for this. The functioning of a valid government cannot be stultified by delay.

The Manifesto Point

The seventh argument is: ‘In appointing a non-Parliamentarian, Mahathir has departed from the Harapan manifesto that the AG shall be an MP.’

Many points answer this vacuous argument. The manifesto point is readily overcome. Second, I have said elsewhere, the AG ought to be an MP answerable to the people, through parliament. I have suggested that the Constitution ought to be changed to effect that. The Committee for Institutional Reform is engaged in just that.

Like the Council of Eminent Persons, they have had no rest. They are burning the candle at both ends. They are inundated with all manner of papers. They will suggest amendments—in good time. But until that change is done, the law, as it stands, must be complied with. There is no countervailing argument against that. There is, fortunately, a Half-Way House solution.

It is embedded into the Constitution. Art. 61 of the Constitution, which states, ‘(2) Either house of parliament may appoint as a member of any of its committees the [AG]… notwithstanding that he is not a member of that house.’

So, through this side-door, Parliament may, after it convenes, ask the AG to be appointed into its committees. The Committees may ask him to answer questions. In this way the current AG can be brought into Parliament’s deliberations.

So these concerns are easily alleviated. So any allegation that ‘Harapan has breached its Manifesto’ is really no issue at all.

Parliament has a right to override the King on executive matters

The King has executive authority over the Federation. That authority is, however, not absolute. It is subject to the dictates of Parliament: this is because Art 39 states:

‘The executive authority of the Federation shall be vested in the yang di Pertuan Agong and exercisable… by him or by the Cabinet or any Minister authorised by the Cabinet, … but parliament may by law confer executive functions on other persons.’

The AG’s appointment, under the current law, is an exercise of executive authority. If the King does not act on the advice of the Prime Minister, the Constitution grants another route to Parliament. In matters of governance, the primacy of Parliament is constitutionally entrenched. But Parliament has not been convened. That time is not yet come. It will. But can we wait till then?

The power of the Conference of Rulers

The final argument in the opposition’s quiver is that the Conference of Rulers have an absolute power to object to any suggestion of the Prime Minister. This is incorrect. True it is that the Conference of Rulers have certain ‘discretionary’ powers. Article 38 lays it out in great detail. They have a right to be consulted on certain matters.

These are listed with some care: these deal with matters relating the appointment of the King, e.g., include any matter relating to the special position of the Malay rulers, the Islamic religion or the rights of Malays under Article 153 (Reservation of quotas in the services, permits etc. for Malays). True also it is that that Art. 38(2)(c) states that the Conference of Rulers shall exercise its functions of consultation by —

‘… consenting or withholding consent to any law and making or giving advice on any appointment which under this Constitution requires the consent of the Conference or is to be made by or after consultation with the Conference’.

Some argue that Clause (6) gives the Conference of Rulers the right of carte blanche— blank cheque; that that it is ‘an absolute right’. This is what the relevant part of Clause (6) says — … the members of the Conference of Rulers may act in their discretion in any proceedings relating to the following functions, that is to say… (c) consenting or withholding consent to any law and making or giving advice on any appointment which under this Constitution requires the consent of the Conference or is to be made by or after consultation with the Conference; In constitutional theory, the personal prerogative of the monarch is said to contradict democracy.

On a proper reading of Clause 6, this personal power is not absolute.

  • First, much of the strength of these prerogative power are diluted by constitutional principles.
  • Second, other clauses in the Constitution severely limit that power.
  • Third, the ‘right to consultation’ cannot mean an ‘absolute right to refuse.’

That is why the Constitution, with great care, has said, their Highnesses ‘may act in their discretion.’ This discretion is called ‘royal prerogative.’ Blackstone described it as the powers that ‘the king enjoys alone, in contradistinction to others, and not to those he enjoys in common with any of his subjects.’ So they are are ‘personal prerogatives.’ But the principles underlying the exercise of prerogatives have been uniformly accepted without contradiction across the world.

It is for that reason such prerogatives are carefully circumscribed. The way the words in clause 6 are crafted is a call to exercise, in their Highnesses discretion, one of the most fundamental provisions of the Rule of Law: when a constitutional discretion is granted, it cannot be exercised arbitrarily.

So the exercise of the ‘personal prerogative’ must seek to achieve the equality principle rooted as the basic fabric of the Constitution. It must be subject to transparency and good governance. It cannot be exercised arbitrarily. It cannot be exploited capriciously. Such a discretion must be exercised in a way that will aid democracy and uphold the Rule of Law. The words must be construed to comply with the spirit of the Constitution and the Will of the People.

Conclusion

Parliament is not in session. Not yet. Yet someone has to carry the burden of the AG. Charges have to be filed. People have to be hauled up before the courts.

The Cabinet is busy answering a hundred, perhaps a thousand urgent calls upon its time. This amidst the urgent concern that economic matters should be dealt with alacrity. Manifesto or no, Mahathir has to stop the haemorrhage.

The Cabinet cannot hang about. Time is of the essence. Mahathir has to act now. Those who delay the appointment of the AG are doing a great disservice to the toils of an elderly patriot trying to right a wayward ship. These detractors are playing into the hands of the pilferers who have purloined billions from our coffers. They sit pretty, smiling from their strongholds. They think nothing will come upon them so long as they keep raising one constitutional crises after another, and trigger as much unease and delay as possible.

That is why they are delaying the appointment of the AG. They wish to feel safe. They think the GE 14 is a pyrrhic victory. They feel they are untouchable. They must be stopped. As a nation we cannot sit idly by, while these detractors stultify the rakyat’s hard-won victory

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Voting in GE14 2018 – Part 2


(It was a war that Pakatan Harapan was not expected to win but they beat the odds – it was indeed a war that they were not expected to win but they did win in the end)

From the offset, the odds were stacked up against the Pakatan (PAS somehow had it easier considering their loose working relationship with BN). Some of the key opposition politicians were charged with criminal cases or misuse of power – Rafizi with BAFIA and Lim Guan Eng with charged under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, which carries a maximum jail term of 20 years and a fine of no less than five times the amount or value of the gratification, or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction. If they are found guilty, it is likely that they will not be able to run for the next General Elections.

And then, we have the delineation by the Election Commission where non Malay voters were moved around creating some of the biggest Parliamentary constituencies in areas that the opposition had won in the previous General Elections and smaller & Malay majority constituencies for Barisan Nasional. Court cases opposing these delineation exercises failed with the courts throwing the case out. In other cases, registration of new voters (mostly Chinese voters) was objected without strong reasons and registration was not done.

Then at the last minute, Pribumi party registration was deemed invalid and was suspended temporarily until they submitted the right documents to the Registrar of Society. The registration of Pakatan Harapan as one entity had no reply from ROS despite several reminders and follow ups. And DAP was forced to hold their party elections again to avoid a possible deregistration of the party.

And as usual, there were open threats especially to the civil servants from voting for the opposition and numerous lies that BN had hoped will cause the support to Pakatan to go down drastically – one of them was that Lim Kit Siang will become the PM if Pakatan wins.

The BN politicians were so sure of another win (after all they have been winning since 1957) that they continued with their arrogant talks and took the concerns of the people very lightly. They insisted that people were happy, rich and was so distrustful of the oppositions that they will vote for BN once again.

BN however miscalculated one key element that the opposition had – Tun Dr M as the Chairman of Pakatan Harapan. The Old Man despite of supporting BN in the GE13 was on the other side of the spectrum for the GE14. He reconciled with Anwar which was a big plus point for the opposition and managed to rally the others to apply the same strategy. Almost every night, we listen to Rafizi on his lori besar and Tun M speeches at the various place in the country.

We were dead tired – not surprisingly from all the standing for almost 2 hours and all that driving in the morning

So seeing that it would be too early for any “viable” results, we went to take a short nap first but then again, the anticipation was just killing me, so I could not sleep – I keep checking my phone for every 10 minutes for any news. At the end of the day, Facebook, special GE14 apps, websites, Whatsapp and even watching the TV – you name it and we were watching all. Although they were showing different results at the same time, it was a matter of whether you going to be optimistic then you check on the Malaysiakini website for unconfirmed results where Pakatan was leading BN comfortably or if pessimistic then you watch TV channels where BN was winning more seats than Pakatan – this is due to the slow announcement of the final results by the EC.

(Election offenses was already widely played out way before the actual polling date and yet there was little the EC did to bring them to books)

Overall the turnout by the voters as the time closed in for closure of voting was still “low” (EC claimed that most voters had voted in the morning) but it was not reaching the more than 80% that the opposition that was looking for. As at 3 pm (2 hours to close), the turnout was just 69% and it was a worrying trend if most of the voters had voted in the morning. And yet there were news that there were still alot of voters still queuing and had not cast their votes.

A 22-year old first-time voter named Bryan tells Malaysiakini that he had to wait more than six hours to cast his vote today.

“I arrived at my voting centre at 9am and only voted at 3.15pm. My voting stream was all young voters and first-time voters.

(Source)

It was evident that alot of voters will not get to vote by 5 pm and despite the appeal by NGOs & politicians, EC confirmed by then that they are not allowing for any extension of time. This caused BERSIH to issue this urgent statement:-

BERSIH 2.0 has told voters who have been caught in long queues to stay put and insist on voting even after 5pm.

In a statement BERSIH 2.0 said: “Those that are already in queue before 5pm at the polling station, please ensure that you are allowed to vote after 5pm.

“Do not go away even if SPR says you are too late. If you are already there and in queue before 5pm, SPR must allow you to vote and cannot ask you to leave. Stay and insist on your right to vote. It is not your fault for them being too slow.”

BERSIH 2.0 added that if the queues are still very long at 5pm, voters should take photos of the queues and the time and write down the names of the Ketua Tempat Mengundi or any SPR officers who refuse voters that are already queuing before 5pm to vote.

(Source)

And in Port Dickson, we even had this nonsense – which was caught by the public red-handed:-

Police have confirmed receiving a report about a small commotion at Sekolah Kebangsaan Port Dickson here this morning.

It was learnt that the commotion involved supporters from Barisan Nasional and PKR following to the discovery of fake ballot papers allegedly distributed by a 14-year-old OKU female teenager outside the polling centre.

When contacted, state police chief Datuk Noor Azam Jamaludin confirmed that the police had received the report lodged by a representative from PKR at about 10.30am this morning.

“We are still investigating the matter and it is still unknown whether the OKU girl, who allegedly distributed the fake ballot papers was hired by any individual or party.

(Source)

And there were other types of boo-boo:-

Voters at Balai Mesyuarat Taman Bukit Serdang in Section 5 here have been placing their ballots in the wrong boxes since doors opened after 8am Wednesday. The ballot papers – orange for parliament and yellow for state seats – were placed in boxes with labels that did not match the ballot papers.

An agent went on to check all 10 streams (saluran) in the polling station and found two with stickers not matching ballots. Stickers are placed at the front of the box, away from the view of voters when they insert their ballots.

(Source)

Results started to trickling down from 8 pm onward and just like the voting line in the morning, the results were announced at almost a snail place.

The time showed 12.00 am and no clear results was announced especially from Sabah and as the time continues to fly-by, we started to hear rumours of the PM meeting up with the National Security Council and they were planning to announce an emergency – a plan that was thwarted by the Sultans and the King. Such rumours did not help to lessen the tension of everyone at home watching the outcome at home. My brother in law even did not have his bath ended up drinking alcohol more due to the stress.

There were a number of upsets – no thanks to the PAS back-stabbers – they took away key opposition votes that would have made Pakatan easy winner of the seats. One of the obvious upset was Liew Chin Tong who lost to MCA’s Wee Ka Siong by merely 303 votes (PAS took away 4,975 votes from the opposition!). The good news was that Pakatan had won a lot of the key seats that were traditionally belonged to BN early into the voting count and moving forward, the remaining results would be on the traditionally strong Pakatan seats.

As expected MCA, MIC and Gerakan was wiped out (kept 1 seat each by sheer luck) and also surprisingly some UMNO key politicians – this was a clear indicators that race based political party is not going to an accepted trend.

Penang and Selangor would remain under Pakatan with a very good margin – thank God and now even other states started to fall to Pakatan – namely Johore, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Kedah and Sabah. Things was looking good and if all goes well and no hanky-panky, no phantom votes, no serious breach of the protocols (especially on signing off the Form 14), Pakatan may just able to pull off one of the greatest record in history of the country.

The final tally showed overwhelming support for Pakatan Harapan:-

  • Johor – PH (29 out of 56 seats)
  • Kedah – PH (18 out of 36 seats); PAS (15 seats); BN (3 seats)
  • Kelantan – PAS (28 out of 45 seats)
  • Melaka – PH (15 out of 28 seats)
  • Negeri Sembilan – PH (20 out of 36 seats)
  • Pahang – BN (22 out of 42 seats)
  • Perak – PH (29 out of 59 seats); BN (27 seats); PAS (3 seats)
  • Perlis – BN (10 out of 15 seats)
  • Penang – PH (25 out of 40 seats)
  • Sabah – BN (29 out of 60 seats); Warisan (29 seats)
  • Selangor – PH (29 seats out of 56 seats)
  • Terengganu – PAS (18 out of 32 seats)

(The all important press conference – it is clear that everyone is tired and frustrated on the slow count of the votes but the win was firmly in the hands of Pakatan Harapan)

Then at 5 am something, Tun Dr M held a press conference and informed that Pakatan had gained the simple majority required and will be forming the next Federal Government. That was great but there was no news of concede from the now ex-PM, DS Najib and that was getting scary. What was he up to? I know that the moment he lost control of the Federal Government, he is going to be hounded for the various corruption charges and mismanagement of funds, something he will not take that easily. I had a bad feeling that he is going to go down die fighting.

(Well said – despite the win, Pakatan still had to wait for Dr M to be sworn in as the next PM)

With still some uncertainties with no official announcements from the Palace or the BN conceding defect, I had expected that it will be some time before we get the confirmation that Pakatan will form the next Federal Government. I looked at the time and it was almost time to wake up for work. There was no point of going to back to sleep. My son who I thought was sleeping came down to the hall and asked if public holidays had been declared – apparently he had been awake all night catching up on the election. Just when I was considering to message my boss that I will be talking half day off (no point I come to work and end up sleeping on the work desk), public holidays were announced by the Chief Secretary (because Dr M was not the PM yet).

And finally almost the 11 am, Najib finally appeared and conceded defeat and the Federal power was confirmed to be firmly under the hands of Pakatan Harapan. The sworn in of the Prime Minister however took even more time to be confirmed.

Anyway it was a GE14 to remember – it is a history in the making. Considering that the opposition will be taking over for the first time since Merdeka, since 1957, I do expected mistakes, slippages, politicians jumping ships and amateur like decision at least for the first 100 days but that is expected. But the cleanup of the nation had started on a strong footing. And Dr M did start off on a very aggressive manner and it started with blacklisting some key players in the earlier corruption acts from leaving the country.

I went to sleep and when I woke up, the air somehow smelt fresher and the environment calmer. Welcome to Malaysia Baru – the New Malaysia.

Read also

Report reveals BN Has Lowest Popular Vote in History

BERSIH – Hall of Shame

Voting in GE14 2018 – Part 1


(The queue to each voting stations – this particular queue where I was standing started from the staircase, all the way to the end, turns right forming another line, makes a U-Turn at the end and heads back to the left. At the end of this left is the classroom where the voting station is located. Look at the queues at the each of the floor – the line was long and it moved so slow)

Weeks before the actual elections day came (the time Najib was still undecided on when to call for the General Elections), I was worried – will we see another 5 years of nonsense and things to be continued to be swept under the carpet?

Personally, I didn’t think Pakatan will ever win the simple majority over the Federal seats but I knew that we had to at least defend Penang & Selangor from falling back to BN. BN had been trying all sorts of tricks in the book to wrestle back the voters support in these crucial states but failed todate. I also made sure to share any positive news on Pakatan with family and friends – the awareness is the key for fence voters to decide when the time comes. And as the days went by, I started to realise that the support for Pakatan was overwhelming compared to support I noticed back in GE13. Tun Dr M being the chairman and designated Prime Minister for Pakatan was a big factor for the support (of course, there was others like high cost of living, selective prosecution, mismanagement of taxpayers’ money, etc). Thousands attended Pakatan public rallies and it was more evident on the social media. Even my 90++ years old grandmother was restless and kept asking when is the elections as she wanted to vote for Tun M.

GE14 would be my 4th time I will be voting on who will be running the nation – so it was not a first time for me but I was still anxious.

Days before 9th May 2018, I double checked, no no, I tripled checked the EC website on my voter’s details and also my siblings and parents. All checked well although it presented a logistic issue. Me and my wife was voting in one place, my sister in another, my Dad in another and my Mom in another and all of us wanted to settle voting as early as possible in the morning before it gets too hot. Considering how some of the candidates were disqualified because they were found bankrupted on the day of nomination but was not the day before, I had nightmares of us going to our polling stations and find our names missing. In fact, on the social media, this worst case scenario was even considered as very real and voters were advised to keep a hardcopy of the voters search just in case it happens. And we did the same; both me and my sister downloaded the details on our phones and shared with all.

And we quickly worked the logistics – I will pick up my Mom first thing in the morning for her voting station because she is the furthest away compared to others. Once finished (which I expected to be done by lunch time), I will come back and pick up my wife in the afternoon as our polling place is the same. In the meantime, she will take care of the kids at home whilst I was out sending my Mom and once back, my Mom will keep an eye on the kids so that we can go and vote. At the same time, my sister will pick up my Dad as it is nearer to home – we want my Dad to go early and finish early as he can’t stand long in the queue due to his medical condition. And somewhere in between we had to arrange for breakfast and lunch for us and the kids. Phew!!!

The polling station opens at 8 am so we planned to ensure our parents at the respective schools by 7.30 am (minimum). And a funny thing happened as I drove out – the roads were clear and despite some morons changing lanes without any indicators, I did not curse them as usual. Somehow I considered them as “Pakatan” supporters on the way to vote and as such I want them to reach their polling stations safely and cast their votes in time. In fact, I was doing a silent prayer so that all voters – irrespective of which party they are supporting – will be able to reach their polling station safely and cast their votes in time. Crazy of me!

By the time, I dropped my Mom at the school at our old neighborhood, a long queue already formed – I guessed they must have lined up before 7 am. Looking at the long line and considering that there is no place to park my car to wait for her to finish voting, I told my Mom to queue up first and once finished, stand in front of the main gate of the school and call me. Gathering that I still had about 1 – 1.5 hours before I get the call, I drove around the old neighborhood (where we use to walk for miles to buy our sundry items) before deciding to stop at the food court for breakfast. The place was full packed – it seemed like most of elderly voters had decided to take their breakfast before going to their voting stations.

When the old lady at the food court served my hot delicious Char Keow Teow, she asked me if I had voted (she must have noticed the missing ink on my fingers), I smiled at her and said I am going in the afternoon. She smiled back and said that no matter what, everyone must vote – vote for change – vote for the opposition. I noticed she repeat this mantra on the next customer who had ordered Char Keow Teow. Just as I was finishing the delicious breakfast, my Mom called and said she had finished voting – the time was 8.30 am. I was impressed – despite the long queue, it moved fast and was done fast. My sister called almost the same time and said that Dad also had completed his voting and they are already back and waiting at my house.

Since my parents finished early, instead of waiting for afternoon, we decided to leave immediately to our polling station – 1. To take advantage of the good weather in the morning (it usually rained in the evening) and 2. To ensure we have more than enough time to cast our votes. Parking was not easy near the polling stations despite the present of traffic policemen. There even people triple parked and waiting in the car. We had to park far so as not to block the road – it was a good exercise walking towards the polling station and there were many other excited voters walking with us. Since we had pre-printed our voter’s details and know which station to go, there was no need to queue again and check at the front counters – we were directed by the kind lady at the ground floor on where to go next.

The time at my watch showed 9.30 am.

My wife’s polling station was at the 2nd floor whilst mine was at the 3rd floor but as we reached the staircase, we noticed queue already formed along the staircase. I think there were at least 100 people in front of me as I reached the 3rd floor and the line was moving very slowly. But considering that we had at least 7 hours before the polling stations would be closed at 5pm, we know we had plenty of time and we will be able to cast our votes. But as time went by and it was getting hotter and hotter and the line started to move slower and slower, I realised that we made a mistake of not bring a bottle of water. Smart ones had a fully charged phone to kill time. Smarter ones had a big bag and 2 bottles of water in it. One old lady at the polling station at the ground floor fainted and the EC staff & her relatives were quick to come to her aid and get her to rest. Others like the very elderly and pregnant ladies was given the chance to cut queue and go straight to vote – other voters did not mind and understood of the situation.

Thirsty and tired of standing in the queue, I finally reached at the front door of the polling station. The time was 11.45 am – I have been at the queue for almost 2 hours. The officer at front motioned me to come and pass him my identification card. Since I knew my serial number, I told him and that made it easier to check the list and confirmed my name. Next was the ink – I noticed it did not dry fast and I was extra careful when I got the ballot papers – I did not want any stains on it and cause it to be an invalid vote. I had a small tissue paper so I managed to wrap my finger on it and very carefully I cast my vote clearly. My wife managed to cast her votes 30 minutes earlier and was waiting for me at the main entrance (I did not realise it as I had put my phone on silent mode).

Voting done and we were parched – it was time to have our drinks before doing anything else. We rushed back and had at least 2 large glasses of fruit juice at a nearby food court and yet we were still thirsty. Lesson learned – next GE – we are bringing our bottles of water.

Part 1 of the tasks for the day was done – organising and casting our votes. Next was Part 2 which was following up on the election results and I know it is going to be one long day (or night) before we got the results up.

2018 – Things So Far


Read also:-

(Miracle do happen! Karma do exist! For the first time in history, the opposition will form the Federal Government and take extra states compared to the last elections. It’s is time to clean up the nation and enforce the rule of law. Photo source: NSTP)

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Preamble

I can’t believe that I last blogged back in September 2017 – time does flies fast when one is not looking

Well, it is not that I had lost interest in blogging (I still do drafts now and then but don’t have the time to complete them) but I found that given the very little time that I have apart from work & family, typing on issues and events over the social media & instant messages (Facebook, Twitter and the countless Whatsapp Groups) is more convenient (just hit the “Share” button and your message gets through) compared to blogging which takes time as I tend to do more research and review the drafts over and over again.

Another reason was that the politics in this country was becoming more absurd and lack of any logic that it was pointless to discuss on it at length. The real battle was waged in the social medias and it made a lot of sense for anyone who is supporting the opposition to join them there and share and create the awareness of their points, arguments and speeches to others (especially for those who are still undecided or don’t care about the state of the nation).

But considering one of the main reason for me to blog was to improve my language (and my “penmanship”) and I have been slacking (very much) on this lately, it is time me to seriously look into blogging on a more regular basis. The real challenge would be to find time to do it on a regular basis but I am kind of inspired by Pakatan Harapan’s win in the General Elections and the volume of work that Tun Dr M is doing after taking up his place as the Prime Minister.

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Going into the year 2018 started with tragedies

First was this:-

A 15-year-old boy died when a chair, thrown from an upper floor of a block of People’s Housing Programme (PPR) apartments in Pantai Dalam, struck his head on Monday night.

The victim, identified as S. Satiswaran, a Form Three student of SMK La Salle in Petaling Jaya, was accompanying his mother, 45, who had just finished grocery shopping.

When they were about to enter their apartment block at about 8.30pm, an office chair, believed to have been thrown from one of the upper floors, crashed down and struck Sathiwaran.

(Source)

The other was this:-

‘This is not a suicide, this is a murder!’ the Malaysian Tamilar Kural (MTL) president thundered on Thursday, following the death of a 14-year-old schoolgirl who died after being in a coma since Jan 24.

David Marshel slammed what he called inaction by the Education Department and the police for not investigating a teacher who had accused the girl of stealing her iPhone last week – a charge the girl vehemently denied.

The Form Two girl passed away at the Seberang Jaya Hospital at 3.30am on Thursday, prompting David to demand that police take action against the teacher and her husband for allegedly threatening and striking the student, to the point that she attempted suicide at her home last week.

(Source)

And the year 2018 was also the year when we learned that 2 of our close relatives was diagnosed with cancer – one is my aunt, very tough lady with breast cancer (undergoing treatment and seems to be holding off) and another, my father-in-law’s elder brother (who we call Uncle) with throat cancer.

When we got the news that the uncle will not last long and the doctor had informed the family that there is nothing much they can do (he probably had days to live), my grandmother got in touch with me and asked me whether I could drive her to see him in Taiping before it was too late.

Despite of my busy schedule, there was no way I could say no to the old tough lady and so we packed up and drive up North to the uncle’s house with my wife & mum tagging along. We reached late and I thought my grandmother would be tired from the long journey and would like to rest first at my father-in-law’s house. But she said no, she was not tired – let’s visit the uncle first no matter how late it is and then think of rest (namely dinner) later. The mood in the uncle’s house was sombre and depressing and despite the late hours, there were plenty of people still awake in the house. No one had the mood to sleep. My grandmother met the uncle in his room, he was half awake from strong medication and blessed him before we left the house. The very next morning, we got news that he had passed away in his sleep.

Yes, beginning of the year was indeed depressing and full of tragedies

2018 was also the year when the country would be having it’s General Elections and the news on the ground was not good. It seems to favor the current Prime Minister Najib – he seems to be untouchable and despite Tun Dr M joining up with the oppositions under the same umbrella known as “Pakatan Harapan”, the chances of Najib winning another General Elections was indeed high. PAS who opted out from Pakatan Harapan remained the thorn in the bush with its leaders working closely with UMNO to frustrate the Pakatan Harapan’s chances in the upcoming General Elections.

And there was the issue of redelineation by the Election Commission that seems to be favoring the ruling political party and moving voters based on ethnic background.

Malaysia’s ongoing redelineation exercise is unconstitutional and will create a Parliament that is extremely unrepresentative of Malaysia’s people, no matter who wins, because it is severely flawed in two main ways: it either creates malapportionment, which is the manipulation of electorate size where one person’s votes become worth up to 3-4 times the votes of another person in a different constituency; or causes gerrymandering, which is the manipulation of electorate composition to the advantage of one party; or both.

Schedule 13 of Malaysia’s Constitution specifically prohibits malapportionment and gerrymandering of electoral boundaries, making the redelineation exercise unconstitutional.

(Source)

Of course, the same was echoed in the Economist’s article title “Malaysia’s PM is about to steal an election” and this did not help to calm things down. Pakatan was looking for another defeat and Malaysians a lost of opportunity to make things right.

Cost of living was on the increase too, no thanks to GST and other factors (such as Ringgit exchange rate, wide mismanagement, weak oil price, etc). We seem to be spending more and more for a smaller size of sundry goods on the monthly basis. At times vegetables were more expensive than chicken or fish. Eating out had become a luxury adventure and we hardly travel these days. And in the recent months, more businesses were closing down and this has direct impact on the national unemployment stats and income from taxation.

SOME companies have shut down because of the goods and services tax (GST), says Second Finance Minister Johari Abdul Ghani. Johari did not disclose details as the matter is still under investigation.

The Malay Chamber of Commerce Malaysia told The Malaysian Insight on October 20 that GST has caused many Malay businesses to close shop.

Its vice-president, Norsyahrin Hamidon, said the chamber has yet to obtain the exact number of members who had to close shop due to GST.

(Source)

And of course, this was before outcome of the General Elections when the country seemed to be going into the dark ages. It was running on the basis of “cash is king” and those who walk along the corridors of powers were untouchable and cannot be criticized whilst the wastages & the other nonsense continued.

Then on 9th May 2018, a miracle happened….

Before You Can Reach for Space…


Read these first:-

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(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.

Prepping in Malaysia: Water Rations 2


Read these first:-

14612438_1210560092349627_1534067215728764739_o.

14707034_1210560035682966_1140757121474087126_o

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14890516_1210559999016303_6404764820657029656_o

(Some of the quick steps taken the State Government when the state faced with serious water contamination and people’s anger over the matter got worse on daily basis. Image source: YB Hannah Yeoh)

Couple months ago (and the month before as well), a good number of households (including yours truly) in the good state of Selangor was hit by prolonged water supply disruption. The culprit was water contamination – earlier from a source in Selangor (which the state government took swift actions) and later from sources from other states. The disruption of water supply created havoc to our daily routine and we had to be on our toes when the SYABAS water tanker comes to the residential area. Thankfully to the quick work by the hard working people at SYABAS and other agencies related to water supply, the taps was running high again by afternoon of Deepavali and remained uninterrupted since then.

Inconvenience to the end users no doubt but then again, it is a wake call for the authorities & the state government to take notice and make plans for the future.

NST reported this at the start of the water supply crisis:-

Centre for Environment, Technology and Development chairman Gurmit Singh describes the water management system in the country as “fragmented”. “We are in this situation because we have badly managed our surface water resources. On top of that, we have the dichotomy between the federal and state governments.

“Most state governments have failed to protect and maintain their water catchment areas. This compromises and adversely affects our reservoirs and water supply. We rely on surface water, but much of it is being wasted through badly maintained and burst pipes.”

But, he says Malaysia has not reached the stage where it needs to resort to underground water sources. Gurmit calls for more efficient irrigation practices, as this will mean more water for consumers. He also suggests that industries be supplied with raw, not treated water. “They do not need high-quality water because they mainly use it for cooling purposes.”

(Source)

water-catchment-nst-2007

(This was back in 2007 – do we have enough water catchment area protected and enforced in 2016 and beyond? The fact the water treatment closed down more often than usual due to water pollution seems to suggest that we are lacking the means to protect our natural resources. Image source: Google)

The Semenyih water treatment plant was shut down for numerous times this year despite the abundance supply of raw water (unlike 2 years, we were struggling to get raw water due to prolong hot season). Thus far, contamination of raw water have blamed and it had come to a point where the state government even began to get suspicious – is someone sabotaging the state government with the water issue?

Well, whether the suspicion turns out to be true or not, at the end of the day, it boils down to enforcement, enforcement and enforcement. Water contamination will not go away in the near future but addressing them before it gets worse and forces the shutdown of the water treatment systems is the key step here and it had to be done so consistently.

Back home, we had been prepping for water shortage and water rations way before 2014 when the level of water in the dams was dangerously low. What have changed in the years thereafter is information channels and the community coming together to assist each other in time of crisis.

The residents at my residential area belongs to the resident association who in turn created a group chat room. So one get the news of water disruption, this valuable information is quickly shared among the rest of the residents. Often it takes couple of hours from the time the water treatment plant shuts down and to the time the taps at home goes dry. So if one gets the information as early as possible, there is more than enough time to quickly save up water. That means the house water tank to be full to top as well as the 3 huge water buckets (one is kept at the porch for ease of filling up water from SYABAS water tankers). Then there is several smaller buckets and in addition to that several containers of clean water for drinking & cooking.

And as an additional measure, couple of cartons of 1.5 liter drinking bottles also kept in the “doomsday store room” – 12 bottles cost less than RM10 per carton (which is a good deal). The trick is to buy them upfront & store before the news gets leaked on the water disruption and there is a mad rush to buy drinking water. At one point, I even had to drive out to places where there is not water disruption to buy drinking water as the ones near my house had fully sold out (including those expense ones).

And we have been keeping sharp eyes on water leaks to ensure that in time of crisis and when water becomes precious, we don’t have hidden leaks that reduces our water storage. And in the past, major leaks had come from broken water tank and in the end, we had to make a whole water tank replacement (after several attempts to patch the holes in the old water tank). That replacement costed us almost RM1000 but it was worth it in the long run.

Keeping the water at the water tank aside, we set priority on which of the water containers we will use first so that when the water authorities sends their water tankers, we can get ready the empty containers and pots to be replenished fast. And there is a good reason for that. The water tankers do not come at scheduled time and sometimes by the time they passes by the road in front of the house, the water level in the tanker is very low (they will send another tanker full of water later but we won’t know when). There were once the water tanker came in the early mornings when it was raining heavily and everyone was fast asleep – at times, timing just sucks.

And big containers are not feasible to use when the water tankers come because it does not fit the hose of the tanker and when it is full, it will be difficult to carry them. So we empty the smaller containers into the bigger containers as and when the level of water comes down. We then arrange these smaller containers, buckets and pots nearer to the main door so that we don’t have to search for them later when the water tanker comes. And everyone in the family chips on the effort of collecting the water from water tankers and this includes the kids who can carry the smaller containers. And like a well oiled machine, we keep doing it until the big containers are full and thereafter the smaller containers as well (thanks to the SYABAS guys who wait patiently for the residents to get their supply of water)

In addition to the off-beat water tanker timing, we also did not forget about the natural source of water – the rainwater which we can use for dish washing and for the toilets. Thankfully it rains often in the evenings so there is no lack of opportunities. There is no high tech rainwater harvesting system in place yet but a rough, low tech system consisting of simple buckets and roof gutters does the job just effectively. But a proper rainwater harvesting system is still in the pipeline in the future.

In end, a good mix of quick information, plenty of upfront storage of water to last the whole family for couple of days, prioritizing the usage of water and ensuring ways to replenish the supply of water kept us in the “cool” until the water contamination issue resolved and the supply is back to normal. There are many people in this country still don’t have access to clean water for their daily use so it is important we manage the water resources effectively and conserve water as much as possible. Our water resources already under tremendous constraint to meet the ever growing population and industrial needs, so faster we act, the better we can manage in the future.