HERE WITH YOU
FOKUS BERANI IKHLAS



Tuesday, 31 March 2009

BY-ELECTION STORIES

THE three by-elections, the two hills of Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau, and the river Batang Ai are the focus of politics in the country right now. Apart from the premiership transfer of power, of course. I won't be joining the campaign directly. But am following them closely. And when I read this article, I could not help but be amused. It has been a long time since I read such a substantial and well written story.... (and friends who came to know about THIS ARTICLE wondered why such restriction....)

HEAVY IRONY IN BATANG AI, A REMOTE LAND OF CONTRAST

BATANG AI: Ironies and contrasts abound in Batang Ai in southern Sarawak, a remote state constituency located 300km from the state capital of Kuching.

For one, although Batang Ai has a hydro-electric dam that supplies electricity to Kuching and Sibu, villages and longhouses along the way from the dam to the main bazaar of Lubok Antu have no electricity supply.

Thousands of residents still rely on diesel-powered generators, even as the power transmission lines from the dam, commissioned 25 years ago, run above their wooden dwellings.

Vast oil-palm estates dot the landscape, and yet the Iban-majority natives are mostly very poor folk with an average income of RM650 per month per family.

In fact, some 35% of the 18,000 people living in the area survive on incomes of between RM300 and RM650 per month.

The main economic activity is padi cultivation and oil-palm plantations, with no sign of the mega-industries that hydro-dams are supposed to attract.

More ironically, while the opposition PKR has accused the Barisan Nasional government of not helping the villagers, its candidate Jawah Gerang was himself the Lubok Antu MP for 25 years!

The Lubok Antu parliamentary seat covers the Batang Ai and Engkilili state constituencies.

Jawah represented Barisan’s (now deregistered) Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak for five terms, yet he is now criticising the same government he was with for not resolving the problems here.

Meanwhile, Barisan’s Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president and state Land Development Minister Datuk Seri Dr James Masing has accused Jawah of not resolving Batang Ai’s land title woes, but Dr Masing himself is the state minister in charge of land development issues.

Barisan leaders have accused Pakatan Rakyat parties of bringing in outsiders here to instigate the 8,006 voters.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu even spoke of curses befalling strangers who entered longhouses.

Yet, Barisan parties have turned many longhouses here into operations centres and temporary motels.

Even the police are setting up bases in longhouses and their compounds.

The spirits in Batang Ai must be very disturbed by all these ironies. THE STAR

Monday, 30 March 2009

BETTER WORLD - BAHAR

THE EARTH hour, 8.30-9.30 pm on Saturday was participated by millions the world over. I wanted to also switch off the lights at my house. To be one with the millions, sort of thing. It so happened that that day, I brought my wife and children to the Bingkasan family home in Kionsom.
When we reached there, it was already getting dark, I saw on the dinner table a candle. I remember thinking, 'wow, my dad is also getting ready for the Earth Hour!!'.
Upon asking, he told me, he had lighted the candles earlier because there was a power black out. I laughed.
Thus my decision not to be among the millions who simultaneously switch off their light at 8.30pm because, my Bingkasan family home had done it earlier.
Instead, I joined the Earth Hour in my own way. On Sunday, I planted four palm trees which in four years time will supply me bahar or palm juice (as in wine, rice wine etc).
Bahar is usually dark red in colour. Thus I wore that red dress, not in the least because am a Red Devils fan.
And mind you, planting four trees was quite an effort for me. I was sweating all over and actually the t-shirt was all wet.
As I was going down the hill behind our house with a hoe and the trees, my Eebot said: Daddy, you are going to play golf?
To my four-year-old, the hoe looks liked a golf club.
And my dad said, the tree looked like a polod, a jungle palm tree whose fruit could cause skin irritation. Though some people eat it.
We all laughed. Well, if the trees are polod after all, at least we will have four 'tiniwak' or 'umbut' or palm cabbage.
Ah... am proud to do my bit for a better world!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

PAK LAH: FORGIVE ME

PAK LAH is no more Umno president. And soon, he will also hand over the Premiership to Najib. Following is his speech, the last one from him as president, during the 59th Umno General Assembly. Lots of food for thoughts. And he said, sorry for whatever he failed to do. Try read the whole speech. It is written well....

8. Nevertheless, we must also realise that of late, Umno’s glory has dimmed. The results of the twelfth general election are an important reminder. Today, everything that Umno does is seen as wrong, everything that Umno says is believed to be untrue. Indeed Umno, as well as the Barisan Nasional have become everyone’s favourite whipping boy, labelled as the cause of every defect and discordance, and blamed as the perpetrator of immoral behaviour and misconduct even when such actions are committed by those who are members of political parties opposed to Umno.

9. How easy it is to be a member of the opposition pact; it is as if they have full licence to freely commit anything, free to utter the foulest words, for everything that is bad can be conveniently blamed on Umno. I am not saying that all Umno members are blameless or without weaknesses. But certainly, Umno members should not be treated as garbage bins, merely to collect blame and slander that arise from the immoral behaviour and misconduct of others. It is not reasonable to believe that members and supporters of opposition parties are free from sin or flaws. Certainly they cannot all be saints. MORE

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

BILLS PASSED

I POSTED this article while following closely the Umno wings elections. It was just announced that Shahrizat obtained twice the number of votes to beat incumbent Iron Lady Rafidah for the Wanita chief post. The Youth and Puteri results are still pending. In Parliament, the bills were passed except one. Honestly, the bills are not easy for me to understand. But make no mistake about it, they and a whole of other bills will affect you and me, and all, in some ways or another. Much like the Umno elections....

BADAWI'S FINAL REFORM BILL DEFERRED

KUALA LUMPUR: The Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) Bill, which deals with complaints of misconduct by enforcement officers, has been deferred till the next Parliament sitting.

The last reform package promised by outgoing Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was tabled for its first reading but did not proceed further.

Abdullah would not see through the bill before passing the premiership to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as the next Parliament sitting is scheduled only in June.

The EAIC bill was originally slotted as the third bill in the list of “reform bills,” the other two being the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Bill.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abd Aziz said the EAIC bill, under the Home Ministry, needed further discussion.

The bill originated from recommendations by the Independent Police Complaint and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) in 2005 and was initially scheduled for this sitting. It covers a total of 21 enforcement agencies including the police.

The IPCMC was proposed by the Royal Commission on Police Reform which wanted a single agency to handle complaints against the police.

The third reading of another bill under the Home Ministry, the Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) Identification Bill 2008, was also deferred. The second reading had been passed last year.

Nazri also said he was not ready to deal with the Judges’ Ethics Committee Bill 2008, which comes under the Prime Minister’s Department, as the ethics code was not ready.

“I have said it that when I table the bill for second reading, the ethics code would be ready,” he said.

Dewan Rakyat adjourned sine die after sitting for 22 days, passing a total of nine bills. The mini budget, or the second economic stimulus package, was among them, while the Human Rights Commission (Amendment) Bill and Private Higher Education Institution (Amendment) Bill were passed Wednesday.

Others included the Supplementary Supply (2008) Bill, Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, Witness Protection Bill, Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Bill, Fees (National Agriculture Training Council) (Validation) and Continental Shelf (Amendment) Bill.

The second reading of nine bills and the third reading of the DNA bill have been postponed to the next Parliament sitting.

These are the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia, Destitute Persons (Amendment) Bill 2008, Animal Feed Bill 2008, Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2008, Bank Kerjasama Rakyat Malaysian Berhad (Special Provisions) (Amendment) Bill 2008, Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission Bill 2009,Judges’ Ethics Committee Bill 2008 and the Malaysian Timber Industry Board (Corporation) (Validation) Bill 2009.

Nazri read out the list of deferred bills Wednesday morning. THE STAR

Friday, 20 March 2009

CUTI CUTI BINGKASANS

MY beloved family on holiday
Brought them all back to Putrajaya
A week. Sad though. Am working.
So had only time with them during lunch
And evening
Hope to visit KPJ Kajang Specialist Centre
Meet Dr Bala and his very able nurses
Hope to window shop too
For now, these two pictures
One at the airport in Kota Kinabalu
The other, having brunch on the plane
Bingkasans on holiday....

Thursday, 19 March 2009

I REST MY CASE

REMEMBER Zaid Ibrahim, whom I said was "my-kind-of-a-leader", a description I also attributed to Obama? Well, what he said two days ago, as posted below, somewhat made me think several times. Am not sure if he is my kind of a leader anymore. He is a prominent lawyer. So may be I will give him the benefits of the doubt. And here, I rest my case......

DOUBT OVER NAJIB AS PM?

Malaysia needs someone who the rakyat can throw their weight behind without reservation. Someone they can trust and respect. Someone who has no scandal to distract him and thereby gain respect from the international community.

These are difficult times and be prepared for worse times to visit us. Malaysia needs a leader who will unite the country in the face of the adversity. Divided, we are weak.

Some of you may say that all efforts to promote the national interest are at this stage an exercise in futility. If truth be told, I am tempted to slip into cynical hopelessness, too. I am fighting the temptation to give up for one simple reason: Malaysia and all that it represents. This is a blessed country, a country too valuable for us to turn our backs on. MORE

YE SHALL NOT BELIEVE

FOLLOWING is an excerpt of a Malaysia Kini article on the word Allah. And I am amazed at the imagination of people, the likes of supposedly seasoned journalist Joe Fernandez and also supposedly church activist Klassen. I mean, why would they purposely spin stories? And for supposedly fighting for the usage of the word Allah? I remember a saying somewhere ... aaaahhh, it just went off my mind. Sorry


Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew has clarified that he had not gone to Vatican with the intention of giving a briefing on the ‘Allah' issue.

He told Malaysiakini that the Vatican has never interfered in the matter and neither had it given any support for the signature campaign organised by a church activist.

He said his visit to Rome had nothing to do with the Herald issue.

He also expressed disappointment that the Kota Kinabalu church activist Ronnie Klassen had decided to make public a private e-mail correspondence. (March 18, 2009/12.06pm). MORE

Monday, 16 March 2009

EXOTIC FOOD...

Vendors selling deep-fried spider wait for customers at a

bus station at Skun in Kampong Cham province,

east of Phnom Penh, yesterday.

It costs US$2 for 10 deep-fried spiders, which come

seasoned with garlic.

The fist-sized arachnids are crunchy on the

outside and taste like cold, gooey chicken on the inside. – Reuters pic



SPIDER. No, not spiderman.
This is real. Like the picture I posted here once.
Never eat one. But looks good enough.
Economic downturn.
We eat insect? Or each other?
Take your pick.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

YES NAJIB

THE art of politics. Yes. No. May be. Who knows. Only time will tell. You and I? Let us hope we will not become victims of circumstances. Worst still, we be trampled by our own votes, or the lack of it.... democracy at its infancy

TRANSITION IS ON, FOR SURE
KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 - The Opposition may attempt to rally support in Parliament and around the country for Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to stay on as prime minister but the transition timetable is cast in stone.

Abdullah has informed his successor Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak this week that he will hand over the reins of government on April 3.

This slight change to the earlier timetable of stepping down on March 31 is because Abdullah would like to chair the Cabinet meeting on April 1 and bid farewell to the ministers in person, some of whom have served with him under the previous administration.

The swearing in of Najib as the sixth prime minister of Malaysia is set for Friday, four days before the clutch of by-elections in Bukit Gantang, Bukit Selambau and Batang Ai.

This news is likely to dampen speculation that Abdullah will continue in office even after the Umno elections – speculation that went up several notches after Abdullah and Opposition icon Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim met at a lunch yesterday in conjunction with the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. MORE

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

A YEAR AGO NOW


WHAT can I say? Time flies, certainly. I remember at this time last year, I was smiling from ear to ear because my boss and all our Upko candidates won in the general elections. And I was thinking, I was in the thick of action, contributing my two cents to the party. I will refrain from making any comment about the existing situation today. But, please read the long article below....

BN HAS ITS WORK CUT OUT
Monday, 9 March 2009: Yesterday marked the first anniversary of Malaysia’s historic 12th general election, when Malaysians voted in the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in five states and denied the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority.

The results were hugely unexpected, with many marking PR because they wanted a different government. Others did it because they wanted to register protest votes to teach BN a lesson about what they perceived to be arrogance.

BN obtained 51.5 per cent of the popular vote, but only 49 per cent in the peninsula – a result subsequent surveys revealed voters could live with in spite of having the untested coalition rule in Kedah, Perak, Penang and Selangor, the last two being the jewels in the crown. Kelantan had already been under the opposition control.

A year is too short a time to judge the new state governments, especially when politicking reigned. But in the main, most seem willing to give PR the benefit of the doubt, believing them to be more sincere about good governance despite their lack of experience.

Since then, two by-elections have been held, both won convincingly by PR. Another three next month could prove even more telling.

Indeed, BN’s reluctance for fresh elections in Perak – the state it retook on the defection of three assemblymen from PR who turned “friendly” independents – despite the present constitutional impasse which has crippled the state administration underlines its fear of facing the electorate now.

“The chances are that we (BN) will lose badly in Perak,” was the frank analysis of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, a former finance minister and member of Umno, the dominant party within the BN coalition. “That seems to be why they are reluctant to have the Sultan dissolve the assembly.”

A year down the road, things are very different in BN and Umno in that Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak is already in the driver’s seat, taking over most of the duties that will be officially handed to him by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi later this month under a transition plan brokered after BN’s disastrous showing last year.

It is also very different in that if the economy was slowing last year, it was at least still growing. But a recession now beckons, with last year’s 4.6 per cent growth a distant memory, replaced by warnings the current slump will be deep and long.

If Abdullah was largely perceived as an inept finance minister, Najib’s turn at handling the portfolio will be closely watched.

That he has to deliver while fighting political fires on so many other fronts is far from reassuring.

After an initial six months in treasury, Najib will now have to demonstrate he has the plans and wherewithal to, if not arrest the decline, at least cushion some of the pain and to galvanise the people. To do this, he needs to inspire confidence.

This he can do by unveiling policies that demonstrate he understands the problems facing the economy along with a blueprint of how he proposes to overcome them.

The second stimulus package to be unveiled tomorrow could offer some clues as to whether he is on the right track.

A year after his coalition’s disastrous performance at the polls, BN’s popularity hasn’t improved.

At the moment, its best bet appears to be blunting simmering resentments by demonstrating it has the ability to make the economic crisis less stressful for all. BUSINESS TIMES

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

SCRIPT

A FRIEND of mine called. And instead of hearing the greeting 'Hello', all I could hear from the other end are hearty laughs which turned to eerie sounding giggles. My patience was on the verge of deserting me when he finally said: The Malaysian Insider had come up with a very good script for a sure box-office political movie. After reading the article, I actually voted for this saga as among the best I have read of a real life story....

PERAK SAGA
IPOH, March 4 — With his term as judicial commissioner ending February 28, the Perak constitutional crisis has taken another twist with the question whether Ridwan Ibrahim was eligible to hear or grant a restraining order against state speaker V Sivakumar yesterday.

The Ipoh-based judicial commissioner was first appointed on March 1, 2007 to a two year term which ended last Saturday. It is not known if his term of office has been extended as the newly-minted Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) has yet to meet.

Unlike judges who have full tenure, judicial commissioners get two-year contracts under Article 122AB of the Federal Constitution and can sit to hear cases in the High Court.

A legal source said the judicial commissioners used to get extensions but now have to apply to the JAC for consideration as high court judges.

"I am not sure about Ridwan's status but the JAC can easily extend his appointment retrospectively like in the past," the source told The Malaysian Insider.

Ridwan's status, unless confirmed, could be another contentious point in the protracted Perak political impasse turned constitutional crisis as Pakatan Rakyat's Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin claims he is still Menteri Besar although the Perak palace has appointed Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir last Feb 5 when three government lawmakers turned independent.

Both Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan Nasional have 28 members each in the 59-seat state assembly, making the three independents a decisive force. Lawsuits from both sides have muddied the issue which is now tied up in legal process. Earlier, judicial commissioner Mohamad Ariff Yusof had recused himself in Kuala Lumpur to hear Nizar's suit challenging the validity of Zambry's appointment.

The legal source said the matter could be clarified when the JAC finally meets. "We don't even know where and when they are going to meet, their staffing and other issues. They could meet under a tree," he quipped, referring to the Perak assembly meeting under a rain tree in Ipoh.

Ridwan, who disqualified Sivakumar's private lawyers yesterday in favour of state lawyer Zulkairnan Hassan, issued a restraining order against the Perak speaker from convening meetings “purporting to be meetings of the Perak legislative assembly”, after accepting arguments that the immunity from judicial review stated in the federal constitution was only for proceedings in the state assembly.

The order for an indefinite period of time was granted at 5pm under Section 44 of the Specific Relief Act which grants the court the power to make orders to a public official.

The order came hours after Sivakumar convened a meeting under a raintree 200 metres from the state legislative assembly building that was locked by order of the State Secretary and cordoned off by a phalanx of riot police armed with shields and water cannons.

A hearing date will be set by the court on March 5, which is also the day that the three independents who left Pakatan Rakyat and now support Barisan Nasional, will go to court to quash the speaker’s decision to consider their state assembly seats vacant. - THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

HOMEWORK-WORM

SEE, he is learning
The alphabets come slow, crooked, disfigured
But, hey, he is learning
Never mind that his enthusiasm
of going to school lasts only until dinner
Next morning, he needs to be
persuaded to go to school
but that too is a learning process
See, he is learning
Had the pleasure to send him to school
the last two days
And its a real joy to see him
learning the ropes...
I helped him out doing his homework
last night
It was joy, sorrow, anger, perseverance all put together...
Hey, its a learning process kakakaka