Yet Another Delay For Dr Irene Fernandez

There has been yet another delay in the struggle for Dr Irene Fernandez to clear her name in the courts. The presiding judge, Yang Arif Hakim Dato’ Haji Mohamad Apandi Bin Haji Ali today told a packed court-room that a computer that was used to store the transcripts of evidence was ‘corrupted by virus’. He was apologetic about the delay and said ‘that this trial has been full of unfortunate events and incidents.’

In fixing the next mention for 10 September to monitor the progress in completing the appeal record, the judge has put down four days each in October and November (Oct 28-30 and Nov 24-28) respectively as the hearing dates. The reasoning is that the one month would give the lawyers time to prepare and get the submissions and arguments ready for the full appeal hearing.

The judge, in also promising to endeavour his ‘level best’ to finish the case by December of this year has ordered the Court Registry to triple its effort and put more people to transcribe the documents and hand-written notes.

We are duly disappointed by the already countless delays and plain mismanagement of this trial and would like to remind the court that Dr Irene has been in judicial limbo for 12 years now. As the country’s final recourse in judicial and legal matters, we stress that we want the courts to be administered in the highest standards. It is a serious matter to anyone when records and transcripts are lost and misplaced and computers get infected with viruses.

In the words of Dr Irene herself: “It is just too long for me, to wait. I am here to seek justice as is the law, but the justice system is now actively punishing me. The delay has already denied me justice.”

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Weekly News Monitor: 4 August, 2008

Penang Govt Loses RM124 Million In Shady Land Deals

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (DAP-Air Putih) reported to the assembly about their findings into several land transactions that went awry because of “negligence” and poor decision making, costing total estimated losses of RM124 million to the state.

According to Lim, one particular case may bring losses worth RM40 million while losses from the other cases involving questionable land acquisitions (collectively investigated as they involved the same government officer) amounted to RM84 million.

Lim said investigations are underway before appropriate action, including reports to the police and Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), are made.

Datuk Jahara Hamid (BN-Telok Ayer Tawar) stood up to ask how such cases could be prevented.

With a broad smile, Lim simply replied: “Gunakan CAT (use CAT)! Competency, accountability, transparency!”

4 Muslim men jailed and fined for cross-dressing

An official says an Islamic court in Kelantan has jailed four Muslim men for taking part in a transvestite beauty pageant.

Mohamad Abdul Aziz Mohamad Noor, a senior official in the Islamic department in Kelantan state, says the men were sentenced to seven days in jail and given a 1,000 ringgit (US$310) fine Sunday after they pleaded guilty to cross-dressing.

He says the men were arrested together with 11 others on Friday for participating in the beauty pageant at a resort.

Mohamad Abdul Aziz said Monday that the others are expected to be charged next month.

Zaid pressured to resign by both sides

At a dinner function, the the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Zaid Ibrahim, said that he has been asked to resign by both his own party as well as the opposition.

“I have been a minister for just about three months and in that time I have talked about various issues – the need to review legislation such as the Internal Security Act, judicial reform, granting wider public access to justice through legal aid, tackling the backlog of cases, the case for greater press freedoms,” he said. “Such talk has caused consternation to some elements within my own party, to the point that I am accused of espousing opposition policies, and thus I should resign.”

The minister lamented that he was caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place as the criticism did not only come from those in Umno. “The opposition has also called for my resignation on grounds that I have not done enough to bring about the promised changes.”

However, Zaid told the delegates at the Asia-Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur that he would not be deterred by calls for him to quit as “these are issues that the people want.”

Penang Overcome By Haze Due To Open Burning In Indonesia

Penang was overcome by haze Thursday, with three areas experiencing poor visibility for between two and six kilometres.

The haze is believed to have originated from open burning in Sumatra, Indonesia.

According to a spokesman of the Penang Meteorological Department, the situation was worsened with suspended materials in the atmosphere.

“We believe the haze is caused by open burning in Sumatra as satellite images have indicated 150 hot spots there.

“Due to the dry weather, the haze is expected to last for several days in the northern part of the peninsula.

The API for unhealthy level is more than 100.

11% adult Malaysians suffering mental ailments

The latest National Health and Morbidity Study has revealed a marginal increase in the number of Malaysians suffering from mental ailments. The study, conducted in 2006 and released earlier this year, showed 11.2% of adults and 20.3% of children and teenagers suffering some form of mental ailment, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad said.

About 11% of those between the ages of 16 and 24 had suicidal yearnings, while 47.7% of adults suffered insomnia.

Both ailments are related to stress, Dr Abdul Latiff said when opening the state-level Health Carnival, emphasising the need to overcome stress at all levels including in schools, workplaces, public institutions and government offices.

More civil service posts for non-Malays

In an effort to improve the racial balance in the civil service, the Government has decided to give more opportunity to non-Malays to join. Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator T. Murugiah said that there were 15,887 vacancies in the civil service.

“Among them are the posts of pharmacy officers and dental officers,” he said adding that the Public Service Commission (PSC) would conduct interviews at Putrajaya, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.

He added that those interested can apply online at www.spa.gov.my or get the application forms at the PSC office.

Foreigners already the single largest group in Sabah

NON-citizens already account for the single largest group in Sabah, representing about 24.8 per cent (or 747,800) out of the State’s total population of 3,015,000, in 2005.

Malaysians outnumber them in Sabah only if all the various ethnic groups are looked at collectively, instead of singly.

This information is based on the Statistics Department’s (State/District Data Bank 2005; General Report of the Population Census, Volume 1, 1980) breakdown showing the Kadazandusun as the second largest at 17.5 per cent, followed by Other Bumiputera (14.6 per cent), Bajau (13 per cent) and Malays (12.2 per cent).

The rest were Chinese who accounted for 9.7 per cent, Others (4.8 per cent) and Murut (3.2 per cent).

The Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS), which distributed this data, also stated that only 230,000 of the 747,800 non-citizens in Sabah were legal workers while the rest were either illegal immigrants, illegal workers or legal workers.

Most of these non-citizens were Filipinos and Indonesians, it said.

FCAS stated that the department’s Yearbook of Statistics – Sabah 2007 also revealed in year 2000 there were 2,603,485 people in Sabah. Of this 1,988,661 (76.38 per cent) were Malaysian citizens and the remaining 614,824 (23.61 per cent) were non-Malaysians.

Sabah’s population is estimated to be 3,600,000 in 2008, of which 1,500,000 are foreigners, thus making 58 per cent Malaysians and 42 per cent non-Malaysians.

FCAS also mentioned that the Employment and Unemployment Statistics in Sabah in 2006 showed the labour force in Sabah numbered 1,264,100 people of whom were 1,190,700 and 73,500 unemployed.

The same statistics also revealed that the total number of employable people in Sabah in 2006 stood at 2,528,300.

Weekly News Monitor: 28 July, 2008

UMNO and PAS Meet Over Malay Unity and Islam

Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi revealed that he has held three meetings with top leaders of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS). Malay unity and Islam were among the issues discussed.

PAS President Datuk Abdul Hadi Awang confirmed party leaders had met Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to discuss issues related to Islam and the Malays soon after the March 8 general election.

He said during the meeting with Abdullah, who is also Umno President, PAS was represented by its Deputy President Nasharudin Mat Isa, PAS central election director-general Datuk Mustapha Ali and Shah Alam Member of Parliament Abd Khalid Samad.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, 26 July, PAS Spiritual Leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat proposed the dissolution of both PAS and Umno and the setting up of a new Islam-based political party to unite the Malays and enable Islam to be the protective umbrella for all the people, including non-Muslims.

He said Islam fulfilled the objectives of all endeavours, including political struggle, and should form the basis of political parties seeking to uphold the true political struggle.

Islam would thus be able to regain strength in the country while forging closer links among the communities, including non-Muslims, he said.

The Changing Constitutional Monarchy

Raja Nazrin Shah, the Regent of Perak, said Malaysia’s constitutional monarchy is moving to carve a larger role for itself in the country’s affairs, feeling that it should not be limited to what is stated in the Federal and state constitutions.

He said that though the King acts on the advice of the Prime Minister, and Malay Rulers on the advice of their menteris besar, their responsibility goes wider than that.

”Rulers have a wider responsibility to ensure that the spirit of constitution, the philosophy behind every law and the bigger interest of the country and its people are always understood and protected., ‘’ he said in a speech on the monarchy at Intan.

Raja Nazrin said the constitutional monarch system involves a sharing of power between the Rulers and the people and the Rulers are often the “source of reference” whenever there was a crisis among the rakyat.

He said Rulers should ensure there is a fair check and balance mechanism among the executive, legislative and judiciary, which in turn would strengthen other democratic institutions in the country.

When advice given to the rulers goes against the spirit of the constitution, the sanctity of the law and the principle of justice, Rulers should not feel compelled to follow it.

But he reminded the Rulers not to take sides in any political battle, and to always stay above the fray. “Rulers cannot at all take the side of an action which reflects injustice or agree to an action that does not reflect the truth,’’  he said.

High Court Reject Karpal’s Application To Recall PI Bala

The High Court here dismissed an application to recall private investigator P. Balasubramaniam to give evidence in the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder trial after hearing objections from all parties.

Justice Mohd Zaki Md Yasin rejected the motion filed by Karpal Singh, saying he was of the view that such applications must be made by the prosecution or the defence.

“Counsel holding a watching brief for the family, in my view, is excluded,” the judge said after hearing preliminary objections from the prosecution and the defence yesterday.

Justice Mohd Zaki, however, added that the court would exercise its discretion to call or recall any witnesses should the need arise any time before the decision was made.

Asian Development Bank Warns That East Asia Is Moving Too Slowly To Fight Inflation

ADB said that central banks in East Asia were moving too slowly to combat the threat of quickening inflation, which it warned seemed to be seeping into the broader economies of the region.

It said timely action by policy makers was needed to maintain East Asia’s healthy growth rate, which it forecast at 7.6 percent for both this year and next, otherwise the region risked a damaging spiral of wages and prices.

”Inflation will likely continue to plague much of emerging East Asia, as current record global energy and food prices seep down into overall economic activity, and there are few signs that they will subside any time soon.

”A nagging rise in core inflation across the region suggests that second-round price effects may be already underway, risking an upward spiral of wages and prices; today’s headline inflation may translate into tomorrow’s core inflation.”

Sarawak To Build 12 Dams To Meet Future Power Needs

Sarawak plans to build 12 hydroelectric dams to meet its future industrialisation needs.

Deputy Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum said the dams were necessary to meet energy demands.

Salang said the 12 dams were necessary as consumption was projected to increase with the development of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy.

He said the dams would only be approved if they passed their environmental impact assessment.

He added that he did not expect the projects to materialise any time soon although the plan was to complete all dams by 2020.

In the meantime, the Edge reported that Tenaga may construct the country’s first nuclear power plant at a cost of 10 billion ringgit.

”We are looking at about 10 billion ringgit for a 1,000 MW plant,” Mohamad Zam Zam Jaafar, head of Tenaga’s nuclear energy taskforce, was quoted as saying by the Edge financial daily newspaper.

Editor’s note: Malaysia currently produces 40% more electricity than it uses. The 2,400MW Bakun Dam is yet to come onstream and will need another RM15 billion for undersea cables to transmit the electricity to Peninsular Malaysia.

Siblings Narrate BMC Fracas To SUHAKAM

The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) today started its two-day public inquiry over the alleged use of ‘excessive force’ by police on residents during the Bandar Mahkota Cheras (BMC) fracas.

Chang Jiun Haur told Suhakam that he, his sister and two friends were driving along Persiaran Mahkota Cheras 1 at 11.30pm when they came upon heavy traffic.

”There were cars ahead and behind us,” he said. “But when we saw the blockade and Federal Reserve Unit officers ahead of us, we tried to turn around.”

”However, when we stopped while trying to do a u-turn, the FRU personnel pounced on my car and started kicking and hitting the car with their batons.”

Shocked by what was happening, Chang locked the car’s doors. However, FRU members allegedly smashed the window on his side, unlatched the lock and opened his door.

He was then allegedly dragged out of his car, kicked and beaten by some seven to 10 FRU personnel.

Asked if he had attempted to get up after the incident, Chang said he could not be sure.

”I think I only regained consciousness while in the Kajang Hospital. I have seen videos of the incident and saw myself walking but I cannot remember it very well.”

Chang’s sister testified to shed more light on the incident.

”I wasn’t beaten but the FRU officer who opened my door, stretched across me (while I was seated in the passenger seat) to strike my brother on the arm several times with his baton,” Jiun Mein told the inquiry.

”After that, I was told to leave the car and was escorted by a female FRU member to the side (10m away) where I watched my brother being beaten,” said the 20-year-old student.

She said her brother did not struggle or resist the alleged beating.

And when she begged her minder to tell the FRU officers to stop, the female officer declined.

Asked if she saw how many times the FRU members had struck, Chang said she could not tell as his face was too bloodied by then.

After that, the four were taken to the Kajang police station in a ‘Black Maria’. At the police station, she was allowed to call her parents.

Asked if she thought they were under arrest, Jiun Mein said: “Yes! Although I was not handcuffed, the other three were. And even at the police station, my brother and our friends were still handcuffed.”

Millions Paid To RM650 Company

In a report in The Sun, R. Nadeswaran and Terence Fernandez revealed that the Youth and Sports Ministry entered into a multi-million ringgit agreement to host a football tournament with a company with a paid up-capital of just RM650 and accumulated losses exceeding RM6.5 million.

If the Ministry had carried out a due diligence test, as is required by practice and convention, before entering into an agreement involving such a big amount of money, it certainly would not have parted with RM17 million as “bidding fees” to host the Champions Youth Cup (CYC) tournament last year.

And certainly, it would not have parted with RM8 million as “advance” for this year’s tournament, which has since been aborted.

Public Varsities To Mentor Cluster Schools

Public universities will be adopting cluster schools to enhance continuity within the national education system.

All 20 public universities and 60 cluster schools in the country will be involved in this programme jointly organised by the Education and Higher Education Ministries.

According to Education secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Zulkurnain Awang, the universities and schools will be paired up according to their respective niche areas and geographical proximity.

His Higher Education counterpart, Datuk Dr Zulkefli A. Hassan, said: “As our universities are located everywhere, the distribution is equitable in every state.”

“If the programme is successful, it can even be extended to other schools,” he said, adding that the initiative could include private universities as well.

Crash Helmets Have A Lifespan, M-Cyclists Warned

Helmets protect the individuals that wear them but their usefulness can only last five years.

Road Safety Department director-general Datuk Suret Singh said helmets were effective for up to five years from the time it is manufactured on condition they were handled and cared for properly.

“Helmets are made from a layer of sponge which protects one’s head and skull in the event of accidents.

“After some time, the sponge disintegrates and the layer of protection is gone,” he said yesterday when launching a rear seat belt and helmet advocacy campaign.

To further educate the people, Suret Singh said the department had had discussions with helmet manufacturers to include expiry dates on their products. “Soon, helmets that are sold will have expiry dates,” he said.

Proposed Amendments To The University and University Colleges Act 1971

  • University students can join any society or organization (including non-governmental organizations) without the permission of the vice-chancellor
  • They can make statements on any academic matter relating to a subject on which they are engaged in study or research
  • Offences under the act will no longer be of a criminal nature; they will be disciplinary offences
  • Students who have been detained or are in prison can choose to continue with their studies at the same university or another with the minister’s permission
  • The definition of ‘student’ will be extended to anyone in a course of study, instruction, training or research at the preparatory, undergraduate, post-graduate or post-doctoral level, including distance-learning, off-campus, exchange and non-graduating students
  • The vice-chancellor will not be a political appointee
  • Deans will be selected after consultation with faculty staff

Inter-Religious Roundtable Dialogue

On June 4th 2008 the Centre for Public Policy Studies organized a dynamic inter-religious roundtable dialogue to facilitate discussion of issues confronting different religions in Malaysia and elsewhere. The forum was convened to host 30 students from National University of Singapore and University of Malaya as part of their Inter-religious Study Tour (in Malaysia and Turkey), in particular to discuss issues and challenges faced in Malaysia with regards to religion and interfaith interactions. The roundtable brought together a number of religious leaders, as well as students interested in inter-religious issues.

The delegation of students was headed by Associate Professor Dr. Syed Farid Alatas from the Department of Malay Studies, National University of Singapore and other notable participants included: Goh Keat Peng (Malaysian Consultative Council for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism), Tricia Yeoh (Centre for Public Policy Studies), John Gurusamy (Malaysian Interfaith Network), Sanggat Singh (Board member MIN), K. Rajkumar (vice Chairman of INSaF), Dr Thilla (Member of MIN), Father Michael Chua (the Ecclesiastical Assistant of the Kuala Lumpur AMIEA), Revered Dr. Albert Walters (Adjuct Faculty in Seminari Theoloji Malaysia), Sherman Kuek, (Convenor for RoH Malaysia) and Rev. Sivin Kit (Bangsar Lutheran Church). At the request of the delegation, these represented a unique range of individuals that would complement the group of students’ exposure to other experts in religion they would have the opportunity to interact with at other sessions in Kuala Lumpur.

The dialogue started by allowing each of the prominent religious representatives to introduce themselves to the students in attendance, from the University of Singapore and the University of Malaya. Following introductions each speaker briefly addressed what they felt were some important current issues regarding religion in both Malaysia and other countries. During the opening comments by the participants there were several common themes, which were touched on by a number of the speakers. One was the idea of respect, in which members of different religions must learn to respect both the similarities and differences between religions in order to maintain an open and constructive dialogue between religions. Another prominent idea was the notion that there is a need to avoid the politicization of religion and focus on true understanding of other religions in order to dispel misinformation. The last and perhaps the most significant commonality that the speakers shared was the need for members of all faiths to treat others regardless of faith, as they to would like to be treated.

Among the suggestions regarding achieving the common ideas, which the leaders espoused were the promotion of inter-religious public service projects through which members of different religions can interact while working toward a common goal. Another suggestion was the continuation and promotion of inter-religious dialogue as a means to ease inter-religious tension and make progress towards mutual understanding.

When it came time for the question and answer session the students were ready to engage the speakers and their fellow students with a variety of tough questions and uncompromising perspectives. The main themes of the session revolved around the interplay of elements of government and religion, and how this interaction plays out differently when comparing countries such as Singapore and Malaysia. Some of the specific question topics included; the role of Sharia and civil courts, the influence of changes in Middle Eastern Islam on Islam in other countries, the role of the state versus federal governments in determining the role of Islam, the debate between Malaysia as a “secular” vs. an “Islamic” state, how the recent elections in Malaysia have affected the inter-religious dynamics in Malaysian society, and perhaps most importantly how religion can be used both in Malaysia and around the world to promote unity rather than division.

Ultimately, the inter-religious dialogue did not solve any of the inter-religious problems that face Malaysia and other countries around the world. It did, however, serve as a model for the way in which leaders and members of different religions can come together to discuss their similarities and differences in a constructive manner. Ultimately, it is only through dialogue and a position of mutual respect that inter-religious harmony can ever be achieved.


Originally published by the Centre for Public Policy Studies. Reproduced with permission.

Recruitment System of Foreign Workers needs to be Urgently Revamped

The Centre for Public Policy Studies welcomes the statement made by the Immigration Department director-general Datuk Mahmood Adam that the department will be made a more efficient and transparent organization. In line with enhancing the Department’s effectiveness and integrity, there should be an immediate revamping of the system that manages the recruitment of foreign workers. Outsourcing companies presently get their licenses from the Immigration Department to recruit workers. The current arrangement is unsatisfactory because the system of appointing agents is subject to and a major source of abuse and corruption. Instead, it is proposed that companies should seek their own foreign employees, subject to pre-determined guidelines set by the Ministry of Human Resources and the Immigration Department.

The Centre for Public Policy Studies also calls for a reasonable wage scheme for workers. Low-income workers are currently subject to exploitation due to the poor employment conditions they undergo and are unable to afford decent living, especially with rising rates of inflation and an overall increase in the costs of living. Secondly, there would be natural preference for employment of locals who are presently unprepared to work for unreasonably low wages that are paid to foreign workers. In order for Malaysia to advance up the ladder of capital-intensive production and technology, it is necessary for the government to realize that companies now rely upon experienced staff with high productivity as opposed to cheap labour. The government has consistently emphasized the need for the economy to move up the value chain. Raising wages to reasonable levels according to respective industries would ensure the country is investing into human capital for the benefit of the economy in the long run as promulgated by the Prime Minister in his announcement that ”quality opportunities” should be made available to all.

There is a great deal of confusion presently about the management of foreign workers, the appointment of agents, renewal of permits and licenses and role of enforcement agencies. This is a poor reflection of a country intending to achieve developed-nation status. The Centre calls for a thorough and intensive revamping of the present system that would clarify matters for employers (both local and foreign) and instill greater public and investor confidence. The need to address this problem is important, as it would counter the perception as indicated by the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) that the government is against unionization of foreign workers. A more transparently efficient system is urgently needed to enhance the integrity of the Immigration Department and various government agencies in managing foreign labour in the country.

Tan Sri Ramon V. Navaratnam
Chairman, Centre for Public Policy Studies
Kuala Lumpur
21st July 2008

For more information, please contact:
Tricia Yeoh,
Director of the Centre for Public Policy Studies
Tel: +603-20932630/4209/2820
Fax: +603-20933078
Email:tricia_yeoh@cpps.org.my

Weekly News Monitor: 21 July, 2008

IMF Sounds Warning Despite Raising Global Forecast

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised up estimates it made in April for global growth this year and next. However, the agency coupled the improved forecasts with stark warnings that demand was slowing sharply in major industrial economies and inflation rising everywhere.

It revised up slightly growth forecasts for emerging and developing economies to 6.9 per cent this year and 6.7 per cent next year, but still a significant slowing from 8 per cent last year. China’s economic expansion is now expected to ease to around 10 per cent from about 12 per cent last year, the fund said.

In emerging economies, higher interest rates and more fiscal restraint are needed, and in some cases, countries should allow their currencies to appreciate to contain inflation, the IMF said.

Oil and food prices are expected to remain high and volatile, with financial conditions temporarily adding to upward price pressures.

More Farmers Suing Government In Nipah Case

Another group of 307 pig farmers are waiting for the Court of Appeal to hear their final appeal to be allowed to sue the government for claims arising from the Nipah outbreak a decade ago.

In another case, the Court of Appeal had allowed another group of 184 pig farmers to sue the government. But it appealed to the Federal Court on Tuesday (15 July) that the farmers’ suit is defective and frivolous and should be thrown out. Judgment is reserved.

Both groups of farmers are from Bukit Pelanduk, the country’s pig farming hub before the virus outbreak killed off the industry. Both filed claims against the government six years ago for alleged negligence in containing the epidemic in 1998.

UMNO Begins Grassroots Talks To Decide PM’s Fate

UMNO launched a first round of meetings on Thursday to determine whether it will keep Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as party chief after recent electoral losses.

About 19,000 branches in the United Malays National Organisation party are slated to hold meetings through next month to discuss preparations for the party’s congress in December, when Mr Abdullah intends to defend his party presidency.

PETRONAS Pays RM 6b As Special Divident To Government

National oil giant Petronas, which today reported a 31.5 per cent profit jump in the last financial year, has declared RM6 billion in a special dividend to the Federal Government after a request from the Finance Ministry.

Petronas president Tan Sri Hassan Merican disclosed the special dividend when announcing the corporation’s financial results ending March 31, 2008. Petronas Group reported a record nett profit of RM61 billion against RM46.6 billion in the previous financial year.

Sources said the government requested the extra dividend as its budget was stretched by a combination of factors including rising costs of subsidies for fuel and food in the past year. It slashed fuel subsidies and raised pump prices for petrol and diesel prompting protests.

Return To ME

If you are a medical specialist with ten years experience overseas aged 45 and above, you may soon be able to come home to Malaysia and commence your private practice without having to do any compulsory service with the government. If you are 35 and below you need only serve with the government for one year compared to the present three-year rule. These are measures which the health ministry are considering to ease the return of much needed medical specialists. Otherwise, the 1,800 medical specialists in the country are not able to cope with the number of patients in need of specialist attention.

Too Fast For Comfort

Express mail guarantees secure and swift delivery of essential stuff and messages.However, when they bring illicit drugs into the country, RM 1.5 million worth of them, then the service is certainly too fast for comfort to Malaysian parents already frantic about the availability of such unwelcome stuff in the country. When the the Customs headquarters’ narcotics branch in KLIA opened up what was listed as computer parts and toys and found instead 120,000 Eramine-5 pills, they have to their credit foiled a dastardly attempt to bring in these dreaded stuff. Sent from Taiwan, the three boxes were addressed to three bogus addresses.

Never Too Early

Tiger Woods started playing at four. So it is never too early to start discovering one’s talent and putting it to good use. A twelve-year old Kuching schoolgirl has had eight books published under such imaginative titles as The Lonely Lion, The Cunning Thief and The Naughty Brother. Herself the beneficiary of such children’s books as Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Victoria Siaw Wei Yah says writing is an avenue for expressing her feelings. She traces her story-writing beginnings to when she was just nine-years of age. Her first attempt at a novel is already 20-pages long. In the meantime her eight published works are already available in the book shops.

Help Keep Needy Children In School

There is a plan to provide food and tuition voucher to needy school children. The priority is for this RM1 billion per year supplements to go to the right children. An additional RM1 billion allocation is available for rural areas to develop education facilities although some school construction projects may fall victim to the current inflationary trend. For this reason, the education ministry is looking to the corporate sector to sponsor the schooling of needy children. “I do not want poverty to be the cause of our children not going to school,” says the education minister.

Helping Bedridden Children

With the introduction of a new motor action training method throughout the country, there is hope that children or the aged suffering from cerebral palsy and confined to bed may soon recover some functions like sitting or walking and even perfom some tasks on their own. This service is being made available to a number of disabled children’s homes and there are plans to introduce it to other such homes in the country. Initated through sponsorship of the Japan International Corporation Agency and the Japan Postal Department who brought trainers from Japan, the technique known as dohsa-hou helps children regain some bodily movements. It takes discipline and diligence for progress to be achieved and retained. The priority is training trainers so that the programme can be expanded.

Creating A World Class Parliament

Much mention has been made in recent weeks of the desire to make the Malaysian Parliament a “world-class Parliament”. What would this entail? We focus on 3 recommendations.

Firstly, backbenchers should be given an increased role through the setting up of Parliamentary committees to oversee the work of the government of the day. At present, the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat provide for 5 committees, all known as Select Committees. There is a Committee of Selection, a Public Accounts Committee, a Standing Orders Committee, a House Committee and a Committee of Privileges.

The Standing Orders do provide for the establishment of what are termed Special Select Committees, to be appointed by order of the Dewan Rakyat. These are the select committees with which we are familiar. In the previous Parliament we had several select committees, namely on Unity and National Integration, on Integrity, and to review proposed amendments to the Penal Code. Such select committees have restricted terms of reference and a limited time frame. They tend to focus on particular issues that arise in the public life from time to time, with a view to gathering information and making recommendations on the particular subject-matter for which they were formed. They do not, by their nature, act as an on-going check and balance to the workings of Government.

All but 1 of these 5 committees focus on internal matters pertaining to the Dewan Rakyat. The Public Accounts Committee, is specifically tasked with a public duty, namely to review the functions of the entire Executive branch of Government, with a focus primarily on the utilisation of public monies. As Parliamentary time is limited, the Public Accounts Committee is only able to review a handful of matters at any one session of Parliament. Partly because it is the only permanent committee of the Dewan Rakyat tasked with a public function, there is unnecessarily an over-attention paid to its functions and the matters brought before it. This tends towards over-sensationalisation, and therefore what has been brought before it has always been viewed as politically sensitive. Further evidence of this over-sensitivity can be seen in the fact that the Government is not inclined to allow the Leader of the Opposition to be its Chairman, as is the practice in mature Parliamentary democracies.

What is needed are permanent committees of the Dewan Rakyat to oversee each ministry of Government. Such permanent committees would act as permanent scrutinisers of the work of Government, providing the needed check and balance of the Legislative branch over the function of the Executive branch. This is done in the Parliaments of Australia, New Zealand and the U.K., as well as in the U.S. Congress. We have all seen, for example, members of the U.S. Cabinet and even the Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank testify before Congress. Ideally there should be one permanent committee for each ministry of Government (unless 2 or more areas can sensibly be incorporated within the purview of a single permanent committee). Standing Order 83 already empowers a Select Committee “to send for persons, documents or papers, and shall have leave to report its opinion and observations, together with the minutes of evidence taken before it, to the House”. Thus such a permanent committee would be entitled to call for hearings and/or otherwise investigate matters falling within the ambit of the ministry it is to oversee. It would be the permanent committee’s responsibility to vet proposed legislation and amendments, to hold public sessions where interested parties can give testimony on matters of public policy, and to have ministers appear to answer questions and to provide explanations. It would be in a position to receive oral and written submissions. Witnesses could be summoned to appear and to testify before such permanent committees on pain of being found in contempt of Parliament. Potential whistleblowers could be granted immunity from legal action. Such hearings would normally be open to members of the public.

In a Westminster-style parliamentary democracy, the Executive branch of Government has wide-ranging powers. However this is not to say that the Legislative branch acts as a mere rubber stamp. Parliament must have and exercise a supervisory function. However this role has not been allowed to develop in a significant way. To his credit, soon after Parliament was convened following the 11th General Elections in 2004, the Prime Minister indicated that one of his objectives was to strengthen the Dewan Rakyat. This was ostensibly to be achieved by strengthening the role of backbenchers in the Dewan Rakyat. The establishment of permanent committees would contribute significantly to the realisation of this stated objective.

Secondly, we need to have much better and more focused scrutiny of proposed legislation. This is where having permanent committees would be extremely beneficial, instead of having a committee of the whole House, which is the current practice. Examples from other legislatures around the world show that the real work of Parliament is done through the work of Parliamentary committees. However for this to succeed, the Government would have to end its current practice of classifying Parliamentary bills as official secrets and withholding them from open distribution until first reading. Members of the public and parliamentarians alike should have the opportunity to properly study proposed legislation. This is where we need a change in Parliamentary culture. In fact, given that we are entering the era of bilateral free trade agreements which may eventually contain commitments giving our trading partners the opportunity to be informed of, review and comment on proposed changes to legislation that may affect them, we should commence this change of culture by being open to the Malaysian public first.

By strengthening the power of backbenchers (both from the Government and the Opposition) to scrutinise legislation and question ministers, senior civil servants, captains of industry and other decision-makers, we will make the Executive branch more transparent and accountable. It would make for an active and participative Legislative branch working together with the Rakyat for the betterment of our country. This can only serve to strengthen Parliament, and to deepen the practice of democracy in our Nation.

The third recommendation would be to share the leadership of Parliament. With Barisan Nasional (BN) now holding only 140 seats in the Dewan Rakyat and the Pakatan Rakyat holding 82 seats, there is a perception of a greater sense of balance in this new Parliament. Now it is the turn of the Malaysian Parliament as an institution to show its own maturity in line with the aspirations of a more demanding electorate. The overriding rationale to do so is in order to ensure that, regardless of which political party (or coalition of parties) helms the government of the day, Parliament will operate on as level a playing field as possible. As it is now not inconceivable that the BN of today may be the opposition of tomorrow, it behoves the BN to work with the PR to progress towards a stronger and more mature Parliament.

The Federal Constitution does not mention the office of the Leader of the Opposition, although the same is recognised in Standing Order 4A. This is an anomaly which should immediately be put right. It is noteworthy that some state governments have amended or are in the course of amending their respective state constitutions to do this at the state assembly level. Currently Article 57 of the Federal Constitution provides for the Dewan Rakyat to have one Speaker and 2 Deputy Speakers. To better reflect the political plurality that now exists (and possibly permanently in the future) in the country, as seen from the share of the popular vote obtained by both the BN and the PR respectively, one Deputy Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat ought to come from among the ranks of the Parliamentary opposition. Given the potential for a possible change in the majority party in the Dewan Rakyat, this practice of selecting one Deputy Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat from among the ranks of the Federal opposition would serve to entrench the concept of a shared leadership of Parliament. The Speaker and Deputy Speakers are expected to be neutral and non-partisan. Indeed, once appointed Speaker and Deputy Speakers, they must forget their party political affiliation and become impartial umpires in the Dewan Rakyat, presiding and making rulings without fear or favour. A total shut-out of one side of the country’s political representation from leadership in Parliament should be avoided at all costs. Such a practice, if continued, would be detrimental to the full and fair workings of Parliament and a denial of recognition of the will of the Rakyat. It would also be unfair to the minority party, whichever that party might be.


The statement above was penned by Raja Aziz Addruse and Andrew Khoo of the Bar Council of Malaysia

Weekly News Monitor: 14th July, 2008

Malaysia immigration graft a ‘national security problem’: watchdog

In this AFP report, the ACA said rampant corruption at the immigration department was a national security problem following the arrest of seven people. Among those detained was a top immigration official who allegedly issued visas to foreign workers in exchange for money. Cash totaling more than 600,000 ringgit was seized.

ACA director general Ahmad Said Hamdan said the watchdog got wind of the scam two months ago following tip offs from the public.

“It goes right to the top. It involves the public, foreigners, government officers and also syndicates.

“This actually involves national security … and the problem is throughout the country. We have arrested a number of people and we expect to pick up more soon,” Ahmad told reporters in the northern state of Penang.

Cop vs cops in Gemas station

The Star reported that a policeman has lodged a report against all his colleagues including his superiors allegedly over dissatisfaction on how the monthly bribes from those operating illegal activities was being distributed.

In retaliation, one of his superiors, a sergeant, lodged another police report against the policeman, a lance corporal, for allegedly selling station property to scrap dealers.

A source said the lance corporal, in his 40s, was dissatisfied with his superiors for allegedly taking the lion’s share of the bribes while the rank and file received very little.

The sergeant, in an apparent tit-for-tat, lodged another report against the lance corporal alleging that he had sold some old wooden and iron furniture from the police station to a dealer.

State police chief Datuk Osman Salleh confirmed that a report has been lodged.

When an ISA detainee’s daughter dies …

Rockybru wrote about the tragic death of the daughter of an ISA detainee, who was too late to be at his daughter’s side. Permission for him to go to the hospital where his daughter lay dying was granted too late by the Home Minister.

http://rockybru.blogspot.com/2008/07/when-isa-detainees-daughter-dies.html

PM to quit in 2010

Abdullah Badawi has said at a news conference that he will leave office in 2010, defying pressure to step down this December. He also said that Najib would take over as head of the Umno party in June 2010.

The prime minister has been under intense pressure to resign over poor election results and high fuel prices. He said he had agreed with Najib to hand over power but that he first wanted the opportunity to implement reforms initiated since he took office in 2003.

“There are many things and programmes I want to achieve before I hand over and I hope that Najib will continue as my deputy in carrying this out,” he said, flanked by Najib and Umno officials.

Najib said that the announcement marked the start of an orderly transition of power.

Almost Half A Million Households Earn Less Than RM1,000 A Month

Bernama carried this report from the Dewan Rakyat.

In reply to a question by Dr Micheal Jeyakumar Devaraj (PKR-Sungai Siput) on household incomes in the country, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator Tan Sri Amirsham A. Aziz said:

“A total of 498,800 households or 8.6 per cent of 5.8 million households in the country earn less than RM1,000 a month. “

He said the latest number was based on a study by the Statistics Department last year.

“The study covered rural and urban areas and involved 5.8 million households,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat today.

Amirsham said for monthly household income of between RM1,000 and RM2,000 there were 1,705,200 households or 29.4 per cent, RM2,001-RM3,000 (1,148,400 or 19.8 per cent) and RM3,001-RM4,000 (748,200 or 12.9 per cent).

He added that 731,000 households or 8.6 per cent earned RM4,001-RM5,000 a month, RM5,001-RM10,000 (916,400 or 15.8 per cent) and for RM10,001 and above (284,200 or 4.9 per cent).

MCCBCHST Press Statement: The Elangesvaran case decision Tuesday, 08 July 2008 07:28pm

This press statement was carried in the Malaysian Bar website.

The MCCBCHST is saddened to learn that yet again, the body of a person who his family members say is Hindu, is being taken away by the Islamic religious authorities to be buried according to Islamic rites based on a Syariah court order given in the absence of the family.

We are equally saddened that the State governments of Perak and Penang ignored calls to ensure that the Islamic religious authorities seek the directions of the civil courts so as to allow the non Muslim family members of the late B Elangesvaran to be heard before a decision is made on whether or not he professed and practised Islam or Hinduism at the time of his death.

Disheartening also is the attitude of the learned High Court Judge who seems to have meekly obeyed an order made by the Syariah courts despite recent Federal Court pronouncements clearly stating that the Syariah courts have no jurisdiction in any dispute where non Muslims are involved. Instead of disregarding the unconstitutional order of the Syariah court, the High Court has yet again avoided its Constitutional responsibility to ensure that justice is done.

We are also disappointed with the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Attorney General. After the fiasco of the “Everest Moorthy” body snatching, we had been promised so many times that legislative reforms will be made to ensure that situations like this will not recur. Yet, nothing has been done. No attempts have been made to make meaningful changes although there has been a lot of talk of reform.

The nation cannot long survive a continuation of these gross injustices. It is rather poignant that it was the Regent of Perak who famously said last year that all of us have a place under the Malaysian sun. For the family of Elangesvaran living in Perak, the words of their Regent rings hollow.

Their right to have their say in Court has been held by the Federal and State governments, the Ipoh High Court, the Ipoh Syariah court and the Islamic religious authorities to be worthless.

Datuk A. Vaithilingam,
MCCBCHST PRESIDENT

08.07.2008

Mother Of Three Becomes Pahang’s CPO

With her apointment as Pahang CPO, a mother of three, Robiah Abdul Ghani has become the country’s first female chief police officer. Her 35-year journey in the police force began in 1971 when she became a probationary inspector rising to platoon commander of the country’s first women PFF (Police Field Force) in 1973 before being posted to the management department at HQ in Bukit Aman. She served in several departments including the serious crimes division in CID and the narcotics department before heading the disciplinary department. She expressed hope that her promotion would raise the morale of other female police officers and asked all concerned to help reduce crime in the state.

Parents, Grandparents Put Aside RM 116.3 Million For Children’s Education

Since the inception of the national education savings scheme in 2004, some 412,404 accounts have been opened with deposits amounting to RM116.3 million in May 2008. Fifty percent of these accounts belong to kampung folks. In revealing this, CEO of the National Higher Education Corporation (PTPTN) Yunos Abdul Ghani also told the story of a 80-year old grandmother who invested RM30,000 for her two grandchildren’s education.

However, the savings scheme started rather slowly with only 15,551 accounts in 2004. In 2005, there were 17,937 new accounts and 51,107 new accounts in 2006. With better promotion campaigns, 180,130 new accounts were added in 2007 and then 147,679 new accounts by May this year. If the trend for 2008 continues, it is anticipated that the year will record a total of 400,000 new accounts. For further information of this savings scheme and its benefits, go to http://www.ptptn.gov.my/web/english/home

Inability To Answe Maths Question Results In Inability To Walk

In Kuala Klawang, Negri Sembilan, 17-year old Nurlieyana Nazran failed to answer a maths question addressed to her. The teacher caned her on her buttocks. This might have compounded an injury the girl had sustained in an earlier fall. The girl is now in Tuanku Jaafar Hospital in Seremban and is unable to walk. State education director, Abdullah Mohamad, promised a full investigation into the incident expressing his hope that teachers will abide by the guidelines on caning students, especially girls. Meanwhile, the teacher concerned had visited the girl and her family to convey her apologies.

Uncertainties Loom Over Hari Raya Travel

Will they or won’t they? There is serious uncertainty over whether express bus operators will offer advance ticket sales for Hari Raya break travellers come October. Express bus operators have been anxious about not receiving the full amount of daily subsidised diesel promised by the government in June. The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry said they were still awaiting instructions from the Finance Ministry. Speaking about this, Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association president Datuk Ashfar Ali said that it might take another three months before operators could receive the full subsidy quota. Ashfar said that if operators cannot absorb the costs in the coming three months they might have to cease operations altogether and this would lead to serious problems if they could not carry out the services for which advance ticket sales have been made. Not being able to purchase advance tickets will disrupt the plans of thousands of would-be Hari Raya travellers and jeopardize their chances of going home to their kampungs to be with their families.

Nervous Breakdown Should Have Insurance Coverage

Since lifestyle diseases such as hypertension, migraine, arthritis and diabetes are already eligible for insurance cover, why not mental disorders? This is the issue raised by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) citing that such a facility is already available in developed countries. NIOSH is concerned that employees suffering from nervous breakdown are still having to pay their own medical expenses since their employers’ insurance plan did not cover illness which is mental in nature.

It’s All In The Game

Yes; that is what politics is all about: the pursuit of power. Of course, they talk about causes and struggles. But the ‘cause’ is simple: the pursuit of power. And the ‘struggle’ is merely a power struggle, nothing more, nothing less.

You may have been facing a lot of problems getting into our site since more than a week ago. First, a hacker hit us and you probably saw a picture of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in battle fatigues on our front page. That, basically, was a message from my adversaries that they ‘know’ Mahathir is behind Malaysia Today.

Yes, since mid-2006, I have been meeting Mahathir in his house, his Petronas office at the KLCC, as well as his office at the Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya. I am also very close to other Mahathir loyalists such as Sufi and Matthias, not to mention his children, in particular Mukhriz and Marina. Malaysia Today also co-sponsored the first dialogue with Mahathir in the Kelab Century Paradise two years ago when he ‘declared war’ on Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and the day he launched his first strike. Further to that, Malaysia Today webcasted, live, Mahathir’s talk in Kota Bharu, the day he was attacked with mace.

Many, Anwar Ibrahim included, say that I have now ‘turned’ and have sold out to Mahathir. They view my ‘relationship’ with Mahathir as suspect and can only be because I now ‘serve a new master’. The talk in town is that I have had a falling out with Anwar and that is why I have now ‘crossed-over’ to Mahathir. Or maybe I am so short of cash so I have ‘sold my soul’ to Mahathir for a great sum of money.

How narrow-minded these people are. If you are with me, then you are a great guy. But if you are with the ‘other side’, then you must have sold out for money. Why is it if I openly express my support for Anwar then I am a great guy? Could it not be I am supporting Anwar because I have been paid a lot of money? Why when I support Anwar I am doing it free-of-charge and for a cause, but if I support Mahathir instead, then it can only be for money and for no other reason. Can’t I also support Anwar and ‘sell my soul’ to Anwar for money as well? But, no! If I support Anwar it can never be for money. It can only be for the cause. Only if I support Mahathir can it be for money.

Actually, I do not support either Anwar or Mahathir. The personalities are not who I support. I support the issues. And that is what all our readers should do as well: support the issues, not the person. People come and go. People change. People ‘cross over’. How can we support one person and then oppose that person when he or she changes his or her stand. If we support the person, then we should support the person all the way, even when that person crosses over. The fact that we will abandon someone when that person changes his or her stand or crosses over means we do not support him or her as such but only what he or she stands for.

Take Ezam Mohd Noor as an example. He was revered when he opposed Umno and fought against corruption. He was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and was jailed under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) even before his ISA detention could end. He was considered a hero. Many stood by him. But when he resigned from the party and later joined Umno, he was defiled and called a traitor. That means most people never really supported him. They supported what he stood for. But when he changed his stand and crossed over to Umno, the support ended. He is now a man hated by the very people who treated him like a demigod all this while.

It is dangerous to support someone for personality cult reasons. You only support his or her cause or stand. And if his or her cause dovetails with yours, well and fine. If not, then you must be matured and civilised enough to disagree, while continuing to respect his or her cause or stand, in spite of it being opposite to yours. In that same spirit, you may not like that person, but if his or her cause is the same as yours, you must be able to see eye-to-eye only as far as the cause or stand is concerned, while you can agree to disagree on all other issues which you feel are contrary to yours.

My cause or stand is simple. I am not anti-government. I am not also pro-government. Barisan Nasional is the government at federal level and in many of the states. Pakatan Rakyat, in turn, is the government in five states. In that sense, both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat are simultaneously the government as well as the opposition, depending on where you happen to be at that point of time. What I am is I am pro-rakyat and anti-exploitation of rakyat. It does not matter who the government is. Be it Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat, my stand remains the same for both.

Both sides of the political divide have been grossly exploiting the rakyat these last 51 years. Be it Umno, MCA, MIC, Gerakan, PKR, DAP, PAS, or any of the other dozen or so political parties, they have used the rakyat in their political game and in the pursuit of power. Yes; that is what politics is all about: the pursuit of power. Of course, they talk about causes and struggles. But the ‘cause’ is simple: the pursuit of power. And the ‘struggle’ is merely a power struggle, nothing more, nothing less.

Never mind who they are. Never mind who is leading these various political parties. They all aim for one thing: to get into power. And they will use the rakyat to gain power because only the rakyat can give them this power. The rakyat is lied to. The rakyat is cheated. The rakyat is being made a fool. And the gullible rakyat will swallow everything the politicians say; hook, line and sinker; thinking that those who offer themselves to serve the rakyat do so for only one reason, to serve the rakyat, whereas serving the rakyat is the farthest thing from their minds.

Today, we are divided like we have never been divided before. Sure, we have not seen a race riot the likes of ‘May 13’ for almost 40 years now. But this does not mean we love each other. It only means we still hate each other but we are too scared to do anything about it lest we suffer reprisals. Even in the opposition they still talk about race. They still demand race-based quotas. So Barisan Nasional is not the only culprit in this race game. Everyone is equally guilty.

Sure, Barisan Nasional plays the race game to the hilt. But the opposition doesn’t really mind. In fact, they love it because the more Barisan Nasional plays the race game the more they can exploit the issue to their benefit. Does the opposition want the race game to end? Of course they do not. If Barisan Nasional stops playing the race game then what is the opposition going to use against the ruling coalition? No, Barisan Nasional must continue playing the race game, never mind how dangerous this may be. It helps the opposition when Barisan Nasional plays the race game. The opposition can then continue harping on how bad Barisan Nasional is to get the support of the rakyat who hate this race game.

If the opposition is not also playing the race game why does it matter who is the Menteri Besar or Chief Minister? Does it matter if he is Malay, Chinese or Indian? Does it even matter if it is a he or she? And why must there be five Malay, three Chinese and two Indian EXCO Members? Why can’t all EXCO Members be of one race? So we have ten Indian EXCO members and a Chinese Menteri Besar in a ‘Malay’ state. So what? Why make a big deal out of it?

But no, the positions must be race-based and must be according to the ‘agreed race quota’. Anything less will be unacceptable. To do otherwise means the coalition needs to be disbanded. We will cooperate only if our race is represented. And no other race can represent us. Someone from our own race must be that representative. And this is the opposition talking, not Barisan Nasional.

Yes, the rakyat is being exploited. And everyone is exploiting the rakyat, both sides of the political divide. And both sides benefit when the race game continues. No, the opposition does not want to see race-based politics end. It is of no benefit to the opposition if the race game ends. The opposition becomes stronger when racial politics escalates. On the other hand, the opposition would become irrelevant if racial politics ends.

So, no, I am not pro-opposition or anti-government, or the other way around. I am pro-rakyat and anti-exploitation of the rakyat. And both sides are playing the same game so how can I align myself to any one side? Be it Anwar or Mahathir — or Pak Lah, Najib, Ku Li, etc. — the same applies. And thus far no one appears to have abandoned the race game. So, until they do, we must think of the rakyat first and these leaders second. And that means I will continue meeting all these leaders, irrespective of who they are. But this in no way means I am favouring one over the other. Meeting them just means I want to know how they tick. And Malaysia Today will continue offering itself as a platform for them to speak out, even if I do not agree with what they stand for.

Anyway, in the meantime, I have other pressing problems on my mind. Malaysia Today is still very sluggish and extremely difficult to access. Our team is trying to resolve the matter and has been working around the clock for more than a week in an attempt to tackle the problem. It may mean we have to invest more money, which I do not have, into upgrading our facilities. Compounding this problem is the ‘road-block’ we are facing. The government is blocking our site and this makes the task even more complex.

Is that bad news or good news? I suppose the good news is the government views us a real threat, warranting the special operation to shut us down. The bad news is if I can’t overcome the problem then the government may win in the end. At this point of time I seriously do not know what the end result is going to be.


This post was first published in Malaysia Today by Raja Petra Kamaruddin. It is reproduced here with permission.