HERE WITH YOU
FOKUS BERANI IKHLAS



Tuesday, 30 March 2010

NEW ECONOMIC MODEL

THE government, has over the years been introducing several policies. These include the five yearly plan (the 10th Malaysia Plan will be unveiled in June this year), Vision 2020, the ten-yearly perspective plan, and many more. Today, he partly spelt out the New Economic Model. I have read it in full. Have to digest it. But then again, this is just part of it, the full version will be out in the coming months...economy is not my piece of meal...pheewwwssss
NAJIB'S NEW ECONOMIC MODEL
17. Today, we take an important next step in that journey. The backbone of our long-term policy agenda will be a new economic model – which will be integrated into the 10th Malaysia Plan and with a longer-term vision that will be delivered through the 11th Malaysia Plan. These can transform the Malaysian economy to become one with high incomes and quality growth over the next decade.

18. The New Economic Model is a vital part of the Malaysia we are building, the structure that will serve our people for the future. As a metaphor, think of a house under the Malaysian sun. We need a roof – an overarching philosophy that encompasses all parts of the building. In our case, 1Malaysia is the roof that we gather under. The Government Transformation Program – a programme of delivery on six key areas – is one pillar of this home. A second pillar is the Economic Transformation Plan that will deliver the New Economic Model. And the floor, the basis where all Malaysians will move forward are the 10th and 11th Malaysian Plans..

19. In the months after I became Prime Minister, I set up an independent National Economic Advisory Council, and tasked it with a thorough review of Malaysia's economy. I asked it to make bold, yet practical, recommendations for a new economic model to transform the Malaysian economy. And I can announce today that I have received the NEAC report.

20. The Report details in a frank manner, the state of the nation’s economy – its strengths and its shortcomings - and assesses the current policies and potential areas of future focus for Malaysia. It is a comprehensive and insightful analysis. I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank the Chairman of the National Economic Advisory Council, Senator Tan Sri Amirsham A Aziz, the members of the NEAC and the Secretariat team. Their work and service to the nation deserves not only our recognition, but our appreciation.

21. Today, I and the cabinet - with the counsel of NEAC - will begin our detailed deliberations on how we move forward from here, particularly as we move from this report to a roadmap for the future. But this cannot be an old-style political debate. The new economic model has wide-ranging implications for the people of Malaysia, and we cannot afford to bypass their views on this matter. Like investors, this government accords high marks for transparency. Whether in the budget or the recent Government Transformation Programme, where thousands of public citizens were involved in the process, I have instructed that this report be published and made available to the general public to gather their input and provide them with an opportunity to be part of the decision-making process over the coming months. It is only through consultation with the Rakyat and all the other stakeholders that we can achieve a strong, convincing and effective plan to implement our New Economic Model.

22. I have made clear on many previous occasions that the era of “government knows best” is over. The Rakyat - and groups such as business leaders and investors - want and deserve input into the policy making process. We must develop a more consultative approach to engaging our most important stakeholders. Only through such a process can we broaden our viewpoints, challenge conventional wisdom, and help build transparent and open consensus for the right way forward. This is the path we will follow. People will come first. READ MORE HERE

Thursday, 25 March 2010

WHY WHY WHY

IF I have my way, this kinds of cases will not see the light of day. But, in reality, life is never plain and simple. This is Indira's story. Perhaps The Malaysian Insider should come up with the husband's version. Then we can compare notes. My guess is, both Indira and the husband, feels they are right. Indira believes she is the rightful custodian of the children. The husband feels he know best what is good for the children. I was in Indonesia in late 70s. And it was wonderful. We in Malaysia can learn much from our neighbouring country - which happens to have the most Muslim population in the world.....@#*sighhh^"##

RELIGION SOURS INDIRA'S HAPPY FAMILY LIFE
“I was happy when I was granted custody but yet a part of me also knew that the fight was far from over. I just wish that this never happened. I do not know why he has to do this. If he has found happiness in another religion, I do not care, go ahead with it, but leave the children out of it. I want my baby girl back...” she said.

Indira said that the last time she had caught a short glimpse of Prasana after a year-long separation was in January this year, when Mohd Ridzuan was ordered to bring the toddler to court to meet with High Court Justice Wan Afrah Wan Ibrahim.

Although she had been forewarned by her lawyers, the sight of her 21-month-old baby girl weighed down by a large tudung (Malay headscarf) had moved her to tears.

She voiced frustration at having missed out on so many firsts in Prasana’s growing years, like her first words, her first steps, and even her first birthday.

“I just missed so much... I missed so much. She was taken when she was just 11-months-old. I missed everything. She was such a pleasant child, very easy to care for and we all loved her. As a mother... and a kindergarten teacher, I see children everyday but I can’t see my own baby. Now, I do not know anything about her, how long her hair is, what she likes... I miss my child,” she said.

In fact, Indira said she had very nearly given up at one point and had even toyed with the idea of converting to Islam for the good of the family.

“It was my two older children who stopped me. My son said ‘If you want, you can go ahead. I do not want to be a Muslim’. He is a bold child... but my children were right... why should we convert?” she said.

She lashed out at the glitch in the country’s religious laws and condemned the government for not acting quickly on the matter. READ THIS "SAD" STORY HERE

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

NEW EXPERIENCE

PARLIAMENT.
I have seen its image on coins ever since I could remember.
I first entered it in 2002, I think.
Then in 2004, I came to work in Putrajaya.
And once in a while in Parliament when there were questions for my boss.
After 2008, Parliament Secretary posts were abolished
(Because the BN MPs numbers dwindled)
Thus the government created Special Tasks Officers
From being Press Secretary, my boss made me STO
Or PTTK (Pegawai Tugas-Tugas Khas) in Bahasa Malaysia
After the narrow victory of Supplementary Bill late last year
This session, which started 15 March, is a new experience.
Cabinet made it mandatory for PTTK to ALWAYS be in Parliament
When it is in session. So, got question or not, PTTK be present.
10.00am to 5.30pm. But yesterday, up to 8.00pm.
Today, 8.30pm. Next week, will not be surprised if its 11.30pm.
What do I do in Parliament?
Ahhhh.... that's a question for me to know and for you to guess
For now.... hehehe hahaha huhuhu kuang kuang kuang

Monday, 22 March 2010

WORLD COURT

I KNOW what my friends will tell me. Wah, you are now singing the Pakatan Rakyat tunes. Well, Daniel is my friend. I have known him for several years. And I am one who wish to be always on the side of those who are right. I also respect freedom of expression. But it does not mean I agree with what they say. At the very least, therefore, this posting is for archive purposes. There you are, I am safe.... hehehehe (I am also not sure if Daniel really present this at the assembly of the House of Commons, or he just gave the hard copy to a representative of the House... take you pick)

A Memorandum on the Fate of Sabah in the Malaysian Federation

Presented by DANIEL JOHN JAMBUN, Esq. At the House of Commons, London, the United Kingdom

March 9, 2010

Good afternoon all Honourable Members of the House, ladies and gentlemen.

First of all, I would like to record our most sincere gratitude having been given this honour of presenting this memorandum before this esteemed House. Today, marks a moment of honour for the people of Sabah, the former North Borneo, for having been accorded this rare opportunity to present a Memorandum a matter of grave significance, a matter which affect our fate as the people of the Federation of Malaysia. We see this as a historical event, a moment granted by God’s grace, in which we can communicate under this honourable roof, to reminisce a milestone of history half a century ago which was followed by sad events that in too many instances happened with numerous misgivings.

For decades now, we the people of Sabah, have been haunted by ghosts of history dating back to August 31, 1963, the day we gained independence from Great Britain. Malaysia was conceptualised and constituted with the best of promises, endearing in us hopes and dreams for a greater future. It is with sadness that I stand here to witness that what had transpired since September 16, 1963 had been a series of events that had led us to the present situation in which we can justly proclaim to be a situation of shattered hopes and broken dreams!

We therefore stand before this House, in good faith, to seek redress and to appeal for an inclusive dialogue, which we hope will lead to a clearer and brighter tomorrow to all parties concerned. I seek the indulgence of this House to hear our side of the story and adjudge the events of the past with a clear conscience and a sympathetic eye, and to lend us a hand in seeking a just and righteous solution to our problem.

I would like to present three pertinent issues, which may or may not have direct concern of the present British government. Firstly, we need to take a critical review of the rationales and instruments for the formation of Malaysia. There is the nagging question of justice in the drafting of the critical Malaysia Agreement, the efficiency and integrity off the Cobbold Commission, the reliability of the promises of the Twenty Points, the Inter governmental Committee Report and the Malaysian Act, historical documents which must be familiar to the knowledge of the Honourable Lawmakers in this House. Secondly, is the perennial issue of security which now affect the sovereignty of Sabah within Malaysia. And thirdly is the case of the spiraling deterioration in the economic wellbeing of the people of Sabah.

Sabah’s Expectations of Malaysia vs Reality and the Malaysian Agreement

The facts of history is that Sabah, a former British colony, achieved its independence on August 31st, 1963. On September 16, 1963, it merged with Malaya, Singapore and Sarawak to form the Federation of Malaysia on terms agreed by all parties. The concept of merger and equal partnership was introduced by Tunku Abdul Rahman to allay fears in Sabah and Sarawak of the possibility of Malaya recolonizing them upon the departure of the British masters.

The terms of this Federation are contained in various documents such as the Twenty Points, the IGC report and of course the Malaysia Agreement, which on paper protected the interests of Sabah and Sarawak within this new Federation so that they do not lose their autonomy in certain areas of governance which gave meanings and substances to their independence.

Without doubt, this was the expressed hope of the founding fathers, principally Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia; Lee Kuan Yew, the former Prime Minister of Singapore, Donald Stephens and Mustapha Harun of Sabah, Stephen Kalong Ningkan of Sarawak, etc. Independent speeches were delivered by various leaders including Razak, Tun Mustapha, Donald Stephens and Sir William Goode to during the historic celebration of Sabah’s nationhood. I present several quotes from them below:

Today, is a historic day for Sabah. It marks the beginning of self-government and independence and the end of colonialism.

  • Sir William Goode, outgoing Governor of North Borneo

(Sabah Times, Jesselton, August 1, 1963)

The Tunku naturally uttered several historic statements on the matter:

The granting of self-government too would enable Sabah to stand on its own feet as equal with Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore.

(Sabah Times, Jesselton, August 30th, 1963)

The important aspects of the Malaysia Ideal, as I see it, is that it will enable the Borneo territories to transform their present colonial status to ‘self government’ for themselves and absolute independence in Malaysia simultaneously...”

“The days of imperialism are gone and it is not the intention of Malaya to perpetuate or revive them. When the Borneo territories become part of Malaysia, they will cease to be a colony of Malaya, they will be partners of equal status, no more or less than the other States.

(Strait Times, October 2nd 1962) The “other States” refer to the other States entities of Malaya, Singapore and Sarawak.”

Today, more than forty six years after independence, the people of Sabah are asking what happened to these rosy pronouncements and assurances. In fact the Sabahans have always been seriously clarification as to why Sabah is now functioning as if it is only a colony of Kuala Lumpur. Many still remember the warnings given by former Indonesian president Sukarno, who said that Malaysia will not change colonialism but will only shift its headquarters from London to Kuala lumpur. Has Sukarno’s prophecy come true today?

Tunku Abdul Rahman kept assuring us that Sabah was now independent; that it was no longer a colony and that Sabah will have its” absolute independence” in Malaysia. What Tunku Abdul Rahman said was exactly what we expected Sabah to gain and benefit from being part of the Federation, i.e. being a fully autonomous state within the Federation. But contrary to that promise, the reality today is that Sabah has become the 12th state of Malaya. Federal government leaders, dominated by Malayans, today can arbitrarily change, at their whims and fancies, whatever they wish to suit their needs and convenience. They even ignored the Twenty Points and the Malaysia Agreement and made it sensitive to even talk about them.

The Problem of the Illegal and Legalised Immigrants in Sabah

About half of Sabah’s population of 3.25 million today are foreigners. Out of this number, 750,000 are undocumented or without travel documents or work passes. Dr Chong Eng Leong paper, “Human Rights and Citizenship: Its impact on Economics, Social and Cultural Rights,” presented at the SUHAKAM Roundtable Discussion on July 31, 2006 refers.

Of these, 60,000 are categorized as refugees and about 153,000 to 418,000 are those supposedly given work passes. In addition there are those with false documents but over and above these numbers are the 600,000 who have been given genuine Malaysian identity cards or MyKads by higher authority under “Projek IC Mahathir” (Dr. Chong Eng Leong, Ibid.)

The most serious and obvious injustices inflicted upon Sabah is the deployment of non-citizen to become voters, thereby depriving citizens of the right to democracy and self-determination. The main category of foreign voters comprise the 600,000 who have been given Mykads, under “Projek IC Mahathir.” This project was widely debated in the local papers in 2006. A witness to a trial on an election dispute confessed in court to possessing a dubious identity card, telling the magistrate that he obtained his IC through “Projek President Mahathir.” This evidence was never contested, and nor has there been any denial form the former Prime Minister.

Security and Sovereignty

Most of these foreigners come from a neighbouring country (the Philippines) which, incidently, has yet to drop its territorial claim over Sabah. By the sheer number of the illegals from the Philippines alone, with their settlements surrounding all the major cities and towns, this claim could be easily legitimized. Sabah is now a haven for escaping terrorists, rebels and kidnappers. JI or Jemaah islamiyah, a terror network, has been identified as having its presence in Sabah. So is Darul Islam Sabah. Hence, with the presence of armed foreigners on our soil, Sabah is no longer a secure state.

This begs the question: Where is the security that the founding fathers of Malaysia had promised us? With the explicit support of Great Britain, we had been hard-pressed to join in the formation of Malaysia, in the name of security from Indonesia’s Confrontation and Phillippines’ claim. But as it turned out, today Brunei, which opted out following a rebellion, and Singapore which was later expelled, are doing so much better. There is therefore no denying that Brunei had been far-sighted, and Singapore had been ironically blessed by its expulsion.

Reverse Take Over

As the number of non-citizens are now rapidly outnumbering the local population in some areas (Dr Jeffery Kitingan, Justice for Sabah, Table 4.1), it is merely a matter of time for this foreign population to spread and overwhelm the whole of Sabah. SUHAKAM’s former Commissioner, Prof. Hamdan Adnan, once said that a foreigner reverse takeover is imminent if the trend continues unabated.

Poverty

Sabah is a rich state endowed with much natural resources such as oil and gas, timber, fertile agricultural land and tourism potentials. With a population of just about three million, Sabah offers abundant promises for vibrant economic development and enviable prosperity. Unfortunately, Sabah today is the poorest state in Malaysia (according to the government’s Malaysia Plan Report). Most of Sabah’s timber has already been harvested without any heed to sustainable supply management, and over eighty percent of the agricultural land develop for oil palm belong to corporate giants owned by west Malaysian companies. Ironically, Sabah is Malaysia’s largest oil palm producer with 60% of the nation’s palm oil being produced in Sabah. Sabah is also one of three Malaysia’s oil producing states, producing more than 73,000 barrels of crude petroleum per day. Why then is Sabah poor and financially dependent on the federal government? The answer is simple: It is either that Sabah is not getting its fair share of its own wealth or is the victim of mismanagement, or both. UNDP (United Nation Development Program) put the State poverty rate at 24.3% of the population.

Poorest State

Sabah, once the richest state in Malaysia, is now the poorest. Most of the poor are Natives in the rural areas, including paddy farmers, fishermen and smallholders. The state government of Sabah has one of the highest budget deficit in the country amounting RM252.89 million (2006). With a population of 3.25 million, its per capita income currently stands at RM9,536 compared to RM18,040 for Malaysia. This show a huge disparity with Sabah’s per capita income way, way below the national standard. Where do our riches go to? To be exact: to the Federal Government. Sabah can never be rich as long as our State cake” is continuously divided into thirteen.

Oil Revenue

Oil and gas belong to the state but in 1976 the federal government made the state surrender this state resource to a central government agency, PETRONAS. It is said that that the “Double Six” Tragedy (airplane crash at Sembulan which killed senior Sabah cabinet members, including the then Chief Minister Tun Fuad Stephens, the former Donald Stephens) was the result of the refusal by Stephens to sign away Sabah’s oil right in Labuan then. Soon after Tun Fuad’s funeral, Harris Salleh signed the agreement. In return the state gets only 5% of the oil revenue. Why? Why do we get only 5% of the revenue from oil, when in the first place, it is a state resource? Who gets the other 95%? How much revenue earnings have been generated from Sabah’s oil and gas, including their by-products?

Felda and Felcra

Land given out to Felda and Felcra by the State Government for the purpose of development assistance to the landless local was never implemented. According to the former Chief Minister, Harris Salleh, 300,000 hectares have been given to Felda/Felcra for this purpose. We know of no one Sabahan having benefited, although perhaps there may be a few. So who are the rest of the beneficiaries? Who is reaping the oil palm harvest from our land? Obviously, justice must be served. And these lands must revert back to the State Government and their utilisation reviewed as part of our economic revival and poverty eradication programmes.

Political

The enormous political implications of the non-citizens currently holding citizens’ identity cards are mind boggling. It is frightening to contemplate the ramifications of the fact that they can vote, as they have been recruited and mobilised by certain political leaders in the BN (the Barisan Nasional or National Front) ruling coalition. In fact most of these “voters for hire” have been recruited as members of UMNO (the United Malay National Organisation), the backbone of the BN.

Even a fellow BN member had openly admitted that illegals could be in BN parties. Chin Su Ling, Youth Chief of the Liberal Democratic Party, a component of the BN said there is a possibility that many illegal immigrants have become members of various BN component Sabah. (Borneo Post, Tuesday, September 19th, 2006). These foreigners may just be “voters for hire” at present but once they can organize themselves, they could be in a position to control Sabah UMNO and elect their own representatives into the State Assembly and Parliament. Once this is achieved they could take over the government and change the rules of the game in their favour. This is not impossible.

How did Sabah’s population grow so fast? Are we more fertile than Sarawak or the peninsular? NO! The high growth in Sabah’s population is explained by the high arrivals of foreigners, many of whom were later exploited to become voters through the “Project IC.” Worse, these foreigners who obtained MyKads through the backdoor also claim to be Bumiputeras (sons of the soil). They are in fact The New Bumiputeras! These new “natives” are now the same number as the natives!

Source of Socio-economic Problems

This large foreign population in Sabah also presents a heavy drain on the economy and social services fund. One estimate puts this cost to the State between RM271 million to RM811 million a year. They also take away from the local quota for education in schools and institutions of higher learning. They use a lot of medical facilities and health care services and encroach onto natives lands, producing squatter colonies. They also rely on low cost housing schemes provided by the government. They are also involved in drugs. According to the police, 90% of drugs are from the Philippines. They steal water and electricity through illegal connections and pollute the environment. Employment wise, many illegals are now running taxis, mini buses as drivers.

“The illegal immigrants are the mother of all problems in Sabah” – Dato Bakri Zinin . High ranking Police Officer, Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur

Conclusion

The root cause of Sabah's dilemma is the fact that the Inter-Governmental Committee Report had failed to ensure Malaysian Government compliance with the Malaysia Agreement on a continuous basis. Various ‘modification’ and ‘adjustments’ had been surreptitiously inserted into the national governance mechanism which had trapped us into subservience and compliance and in the process eroding much of our rights and privileges.

The IGC must be revived and the United Kingdom, along with Singapore, Sarawak, Sabah and Malaya (the Federal Government), must play an active role as sympathetic and just former master to institute effective and enduring rectifications. This is the least that we can ask for. This is also the way forward. The United Kingdom is the first stop in our mission to revive the IGC. Efforts are also being made at this material time in Kuala Lumpur by Dr Jeffrey Gapari Kitingan, the chairman of the Common Interest Group Malaysia (Cigma) to seek the same redress and review of the terms of independence And formation of the Federation of Malaysia. Likewise we are mobilising a similar mission to Singapore prior to seeking a dialogue with the Sabah and Sarawak State Governments on the same issue.

With respect and reverence we lay our hopes and desires before this honourable House for a redirection of the negative trends that beset us in Borneo, in the full confidence that a vehicle to the future can be chartered for justice and truth, to pick up the pieces of the shattered hopes and broken dreams.

Thank you.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

SUBSIDY GONE

TO US, you will always be our baby. That is an often repeated phrase by parents to their children. Such noble attitude entails a commitment by the parents to always "take greatest care" of their children, especially when the younger ones are in need. Subsidy is formulated along the same line, though not really the same. In this age of IT and borderless world, I think the time has come for the authorities to do away with the subsidy regime. I believe such move will work wonders in the long run. My two cents.

SUBSIDY NO MORE

KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 — Malaysia is considering proposals to end its subsidy regime and phase in a new goods and services tax as it begins dismantling a four-decade race-based economic system that has deterred foreign investment.

The economic regime adopted after race riots in 1969 has given a wide array of economic benefits to the 55 per cent Malay population, but investors complain it has led to a patronage-ridden economy that has resulted in foreign investment increasingly moving to Indonesia and Thailand.

The reform proposals have been seen by the Cabinet and will be reviewed again before Prime Minister Najib Razak presents them at the “Invest Malaysia” conference this month in a bid to woo foreign investors, a government source who has seen the plans told Reuters.

“The proposal cites political implications for some of the measures and calls for the government to make some tough decisions,” said the source, who could not be named because of the controversial nature of many of the policies.

The government last weekend abandoned politically sensitive plans to introduce a goods and services tax just weeks after it halted implementation of petrol price hikes aimed at cutting its subsidy bill and electricity price rises.

It cited a need to “engage with the public” as reason for the delay.

The new reform plans, drawn up by an influential government advisory body and which will be open to public discussion, say the government will end price controls and subsidies, mainly for fuel, food and power “with minimal exceptions”.

“The savings should then be allocated to widen the social safety net for the bottom 40 percent of households,” said the source.

Malaysian power tariffs are half those of neighbouring Singapore, according to a recent report by investment bank Maybank on electricity company Tenaga Nasional.

A series of policy flip-flops in recent years have dogged Malaysia’s reform efforts and the country has seen net foreign direct investment outflows to the tune of 26.1 billion ringgit over the past two years.

Malaysia attracted 31 per cent of the total foreign direct investment that went to Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand in 2008 versus half of that total in the 1990-2000 period, according to UN data.

The stock market has languished and foreign ownership dropped to 20.4 per cent of market capitalisation at the end of 2009 from 26.2 per cent at the end of 2007, according to official data.

Malaysia will seek to position itself in high growth industries under the new reform proposals, aiming to achieve per capita gross national income of US$17,000 (RM56,270) by 2020, which would make it a developed nation by World Bank standards.

Countries such as South Korea and Singapore have already made that leap.

Without a radical reshaping of its economy and a move away from low-value added electronics exports and labour intensive commodities industries, Malaysia risks losing ground to the likes of China and Vietnam and not making it to developed nation status, a recent World Bank report said.

It is unclear how far the proposals will go in reshaping Malaysia’s social system, blamed by some political analysts and economists for fostering graft and an uncompetitive economy.

At present, the majority Malay population gets a variety of benefits from cheap loans and discounts on property to preferential access to education as well as preferential equity in companies.

The government has repeatedly sought to reassure Malays who are its core voter base that their rights would not be eroded. It is still reeling from record losses in national and state elections in 2008 when ethnic Chinese and Indian voters deserted the coalition that has now ruled for 52 years.

It could keep that pledge in part by sticking to guarantees in the constitution that give Malays a proportion of scholarships, university places and business licences.

The report said a backlash against the proposed reforms could come from industries that have enjoyed protection from competition as well as from politicians whose constituents did badly out of the planned changes.

Before being formally implemented in June, the plan will be opened for discussion by the public and interest groups.

Malaysia depends on oil giant Petronas for almost half of federal government revenues and has announced plans to cut the budget deficit, which last year came in at a more than 20-year high of 7.4 per cent of gross domestic product, to 5.4 per cent this year.

There were, however, no detailed plans on the deficit reduction programme other than a pledge for “prudent spending”, although higher growth of 6.5 per cent annually would boost tax revenues.

The new reform plans call for the government to impose a goods and services tax and reduce personal and company tax rates, although the levels were not specified.

Under its 2010 budget, the government had planned to reduce subsidies by 3.6 billion ringgit this year by altering its petrol subsidy regime from May, a measure that will now not likely happen until after elections which political analysts say could come in early 2011. — Reuters

Monday, 15 March 2010

SPECULATION

AFTER the March 8, 2008 political tsunami, there had been non-stop talks about the BN government going for a snap general elections. Najib took over and people said, he needed to have his own mandate. Today, the King opened the first Parliament sitting under Najib's rule. And the least I had expected was more speculation about snap polls. Well, here it is. And written by a foreign wire. If not for anything, this should be good enough food for thoughts for experts in coffee shops. Hear ye, hear ye....
GENERAL ELECTIONS NEXT YEAR?
KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 — The country’s recent pullback on fiscal reforms has fuelled talk that the government of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is gearing up for snap polls even though the next general election is not due until 2013.

Following are questions and answers on the possible timing and the political and economic implications of an early general election in the country.


Why are early polls likely?

The end of fuel subsidy reforms as well as a delay in tabling a Goods and Services Tax Bill in Parliament indicate a reluctance by the government to impose measures that would have an impact on poorer Malay voters, a critical vote bank for the Umno, backbone of the ruling coalition. This in turn signals a government that may be making preparations for early polls.

Should investors worry?

To some extent. The last elections turned unpredictable in 2008, when the opposition alliance, now led by former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, scored the country’s biggest-ever election upset. It ended the government’s two-thirds parliamentary majority, and the opposition wound up controlling five of 13 states. That election result triggered a stock market sell-off.

Recent moves to halt fiscal consolidation imply the government thinks it can narrow its budget gap, which stood at a 20-year high of 7.4 per cent of GDP in 2009, purely on the back of increased economic activity and higher oil prices.

Longer term, failure to implement fiscal reform leaves the country, Asia’s third-most trade dependent economy, vulnerable to external economic and commodity price shocks. State oil company Petronas provides almost half of all government revenues.

When could the polls be held?

The most probable timing now seems to be during 2011, for several reasons:

  • The government normally calls for polls only when economic growth is in positive territory. Najib is aiming for GDP growth of at least five per cent this year after the economy contracted 1.7 per cent in 2009. The government would need at least until the first quarter of next year for the recovery to reach ordinary voters.
  • Many of the reform pledges that Najib has made, covering six core areas from fighting graft to improving urban transportation, have deadlines at the end of this year.
  • Elections in Sarawak. The state is Barisan Nasional’s (BN) stronghold that provides the government with 30 of its 137 Parliament seats. Sarawak is the sole state in the country that holds state elections separately from national polls. It must hold polls by June 2011.
  • If the government held the next Sarawak state election concurrently with federal polls it would stretch the opposition’s meagre campaign resources even more thinly.
  • Alternatively, the government could call for state elections in Sarawak either late this year or early next year, in the hope that a strong showing would bolster confidence ahead of national polls that would follow soon after.
  • But even if the government scores a landslide win in Sarawak, it may not be willing to take a risk in far more politicised mainland Malaysia where the PAS is making inroads into its Malay voter base.
  • Petrol price hikes in 2006 helped the opposition DAP to an unprecedented six state seats in Sarawak polls that year.
  • “I believe the Sarawak polls will be held separately before the next general election because Sarawak is usually taken as a rough barometer before the national polls are held,” said Shaharuddin Badaruddin, associate professor at Universiti Teknologi Mara.
  • Calling for an election later than next year also poses a risk for the government due to the possibility of a rise in religious and racial tensions. Ethnic Chinese and Indian voters have shown no sign of returning to BN since 2008.

What are the indications of imminent polls?

  • The following indicators will provide a rough early warning that polls are coming in the next three to six months. None have taken place so far:
  • BN component party leaders and state leaders from the Umno, the lynchpin of the 12-party ruling coalition, will be summoned by Najib to finalise their proposed list of election candidates.
  • The Election Commission will also indicate looming polls with a step up in its own logistical preparations and a finalising of the electoral rolls.
  • A run-up in the stock market. In the past, government-linked funds were asked to prop up the stock market several months ahead of elections to create a feel-good factor for the economy, though the extent of such rallies varies.
  • What would be the outcome of the polls?
  • While the Opposition has never been stronger in the wake of what locals dubbed the 2008 “political tsunami”, the odds are still loaded in favour of BN.

The Anwar-led opposition has won seven out of nine by-elections held since the 2008 elections and most of Umno’s partners in BN are either paralysed following the drubbing they received in 2008 or plagued by infighting.

Anwar is battling charges of sodomy in court, in what he says is a repeat of a political conspiracy that saw him jailed for six years after his sacking as deputy prime minister in 1998.

The government insists he will get a fair trial. One risk is that a guilty verdict could energise and embolden the opposition. Alternatively it could drive a wedge between the reformers, ethnic Chinese and Islamists that comprise his alliance.

Umno has 78 parliamentary seats. Adding in allied MPs from its stronghold states of Sabah and Sarawak, its total rises to 117 seats, enough for a simple majority in the 222-seat Parliament even if all the coalition’s ethnic Chinese and Indian parties fail to win anything.

Najib however needs a two-thirds majority if he is to legitimise his rule and avoid a leadership challenge, a fate that befell his predecessor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who presided over the 2008 election losses. — Reuters

Monday, 8 March 2010

TURN THE OTHER CHEEK

KUDOS to the Archbishop. Then I remember the prophet caricature. The forum on apostasy. Body snatching. And many more. Sometimes am tempted to disagree with the Church, especially on things like these. But, am only in my 40s while the Church been there for 2010 years. Hope the people on the street will see the wisdom. Of the Church. And most importantly the rationale offered by the powers that be....

ARCHBISHOP ACCEPTS APOLOGY

KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 — Archbishop Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam today accepted the public apology by the Al-Islam magazine for a May 2009 special report and said no legal action will be taken against them.

“I am happy that the editor and journalists of Al-Islam have made the apology on their website and promised to print the apology on their forthcoming issue,” the head of the archdiocese here said in a statement faxed to The Malaysian Insider.

He also thanked them for their “quick response”.

“I accept the apology and no legal action will be taken against Al-Islam on this ‘matter’,” added Pakiam, who is also the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

Pakiam had held a media conference four days ago to express his outrage at the delay by the Attorney General (AG) in responding to a police report against the Islamic magazine and its two reporters who wrote about their undercover exploits inside a Catholic church published in May last year.

The duo claimed they were investigating a rumour about a Muslim teen who had converted to Christianity and had gone to the church to check.

While there, they took part in the Holy Communion, a ceremony central to the Catholic faith.

Catholics believe that the bread — represented by a thin white circular wafer – and wine undergoes a spiritual transformation and becomes the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

They were highly offended by the journalists’ recounting of how they had eaten the wafer, spat it out and photographed it.

The archbishop recently found out the AG had dropped charges against the duo and the magazine, owned by a subsidiary of Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia, and urged him to rethink the decision for the sake of maintaining the fragile state of Malaysia’s religious harmony.

Pakiam said he would stop lobbying the government to prosecute Al-Islam as long as the magazine apologised.

The magazine carried the editor’s apology on its website the very next day, explaining it had wanted to do so earlier but feared there may be legal consequences.

Pakiam today assured them that “the Catholic community is appeased.”

“I extend my peace and goodwill to the editor and journalists,” he said.

He added that a “peaceful demonstration” planned at Dataran Merdeka here for March 15 has also been called off. The Malaysian Insider

Friday, 5 March 2010

NEW DATA

AM NOT sure about you. But after the last general elections, there had been quite a movement (some say frogging) among the supposedly Wakil Rakyat (representatives) both at the State and Parliamentary seats, thus am not sure anymore the real data. So this is just to update me. And you all. Happy catching up ... hehehe

NUMBER OF SEATS IN OPPOSITION
Source data - http://www.parlimen.gov.my/DewRakyat_AhliDewan_3.php

With the resignation of Bagan Serai MP yesterday (3 March 2010),
PKR now has 27 MPs,
DAP, 28,
PAS, 23,
PSM, 1 (Sg. Siput) and
SAPP, 2 (Sabah seats - Tawau and Sepanggar).
Total = 81 seats in Opposition
There are now four independents :

1. Bayan Baru MP Datuk Seri Zahrain Hashim (ex- PKR)
2. Nibong Tebal MP TanTee Beng (ex-PKR)
3. Bagan Serai MP Mohsin Fadzli Samsuri(ex-PKR)
4. Pasir Mas MP Ibrahim Ali



Barisan Nasional (BN) controls 137 seats in the 222-member Parliament.

For 2/3 majority they need to have 148 seats.

Umno has 78 seats (including in Sabah)
In Sabah - 25 parliamentary seats :
PBS 3,
UPKO 4,
LDP 1 (Sandakan) and
PBRS 1 (Pensiangan)
In Sarawak - 31 parliamentary seats with BN having 30 seats :
PBB - 14 seats
SUPP - 6 seats
PRS - 6 seats
SPDP - 4 seats

BN now needs 7 more seats + the 4 Independents to gain back their 2/3 majority.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

THURSDAYS WITH...

EEBOT: Let us go back to basic. We have been wading against the current for no apparent reason. Surely life is not meant to be such as difficult as this.
BUDDY: Are you giving up, my friend? Hey, Minnie, I think our friend here is on the verge of desperation.
MINNIE: Did I miss anything?
BUDDY: Eebot here is sounding different. And you, Minnie, seemed to be out of touch. How lah like this?
EEBOT: Seriously, look around us. Better still, analyze our surrounding. MCA still could not take care of its own party. SPDP too in disarray. PKR or even PR is pre-occupied with fire fighting within its own party. Umno? Others? Then the many earthquakes in Chile, Taiwan, the Philippines. In the meantime, at our own backyard, even just outside this coffee shop, there are so many not good things.
MINNIE: I think I understand you a little bit now, Eebot.
BUDDY: Oh, you can actually understand? But Eebot, with all that you have said, is the solution as simple as going to basic? I have my doubts.
EEBOT: Well, we have to start somewhere. And I reckon going back to where we begin is a good start.
MINNIE: Are you saying that the world was wrong from the very beginning? Why cannot we trace where we go wrong and begin the corrective measure from there? Why waste time going back to basic?
BUDDY: Wow, what a wisdom, Minnie. Alright, where do we begin?