Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Year Greeting

(My old 'Dufferin' buddy Sudheer Chand sent me this message which I would like to share with everybody)

I wanted to send a season's greeting to you all. I must confess though, that taking such action worries me a little. It is in fact somewhat difficult in today's world to know exactly what to say without potentially causing offense specially in this sensitive forum spreading over a few generations. Therefore I had to seek lawyers advice and here is what I feel comfortable to say to everybody:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, non denominational, non political celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practised with the most enjoyable traditions of religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated in recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2008, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make my country great and without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of their wishes.

By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms.

This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

Disclaimer: No trees were harmed directly in the sending of this message; however, a significant number of electrons were selectively rearranged.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Season's Greetings

Well, 'tis that time of the year again ...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

PKFZ - Abuse of Power

PKFZ (Click on chart to enlarge)

Malaysiakini reports that Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim yesterday revealed at a press conference that two transport ministers - Chan Kong Choy and his predecessor Ling Liong Sik - had abused their powers by sending letters of support committing the government as guarantor for any financial liabilities of the Port Klang Authority (PKA) for the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project. He said both Ling and Chan wrote four letters expressing the government’s undertaking to subsidiary companies of the PKFZ’s turnkey contractor, Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB).

The four subsidiary companies are Special Port Vehicle Bhd., Transshipment Megahub Bhd., Valid Ventures Bhd. and Free Zone Capital Bhd. Developer KDSB had raised funds for the RM4.6 billion PKFZ project through the issuance of bonds purported through such a guarantee.

Anwar, a former finance minister, said that such an undertaking can only come from the Finance Ministry or the cabinet. (Read his blog entry, here.)

I have said this before and I will say it again that the whole thing smacks of corruption and gross abuse of power. A full and independent investigative audit should be carried out to determine the extent of the Government’s liability, pinpoint existing weaknesses in the system of financial and accounting controls, and ascertain whether there is evidence of financial improprieties. Perhaps a Royal Commission of Inquiry should also be set up to get to the truth. To date, I believe the Attorney General has not yet been called by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to answer questions pertaining to the dubious land sale which led to the huge cost overruns thus requiring a bail-out for the PKA.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Adha

Muslims in Malaysia celebrate Aidil Adha or Hari Raya Haji tomorrow the 20th of December, a day later than in some parts of the world where it is also known as Eid ul Dzuha or Bakri Id, to mark the end of the Haj season in Mecca.

Here's wishing Selamat Hari Raya Haji to all Muslims and happy holidays to all. May the new year bring peace and prosperity to our beloved country.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Fatwa on ISA

Well, we saw this coming.

A government bankrupt of ideas have finally grabbed the 5 leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) under the controversial Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows for detention without trial for a 2 year term in the interest of so called 'public order'. Sheeesh.

Nothing really justifies this draconian law as a 'necessary evil'. Government apologists will forever argue that the 'silent majority' of the rakyat gave tacit approval by returning the same government again and again. But people, this a baaad 'preventive' law. It may have served its purpose during its time but its now no longer necessary. There are other punitive laws in place so lets charge the 5 in a court of law, eh? Whats the matter, no credible evidences to make them stick? Come on, even the seemingly harsh Syariah Laws require credible evidences and witnesses before punishment can be meted out.

The Mufti of Sabah recently willy nilly issued a fatwa (religious decree) that declared all Buddhist statues haram (forbidden) in the state. This, I believe, is more dangerous to public order and threatens the very fabric of our multi racial and multi religious society. On 18th August 2004, a group of 22 ISA detainees challenged the Malaysian Council of Muftis to make a fatwa on the ISA, which ex detainee Saari Sungib argued, violates “principles of human rights and the rule of law enshrined in the Scriptures”. But somehow this was kept out of the mainstream media and nothing came out of it. No prizes for guessing why.

Perhaps its about time all the state Muftis, or even one of them to have the balls to sort this matter out once and for all.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Walking the Talk

(Source: Petpositive)

Fellow mariner Capt. Abdul Karim Stuart Russell, a regular commenter in my blog, is a man who likes to walk the talk. Although retired, he is still active as adviser to the Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association (Petpositive) and Secretary for the Support Group Society for the Blind of Malaysia or Supporteam.

In recent letters to Malaysiakini and the NST, Capt. Karim wrote: "The International Day of Disabled Persons on Dec 3 was yet another wonderful opportunity to promote understanding and increase public awareness of disability issues, and to promulgate the importance of integration and the well-being of people with disabilities." However, he expressed disappointment that little is still being done to help them access facilities, transport, etc.

"Half-hearted action, lip service, discrimination and marginalisation will not help disabled persons in Malaysia live an independent, integrated, dignified, equitable, productive, and happy lives during which they can raise a family and contribute to the well-being of their family and the nation. Effective, well-thought out and wide-ranging legislation and strict enforcement outlawing the discrimination of persons with disabilities will be a concrete step forward," he added. "Malaysia," Capt. Karim asserts,"needs a comprehensive Disability Discrimination Act."

Way to go, Stu.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Battle Lines are Drawn

(Photo courtesy Tony Yew)

About a year ago, former PM Tun Dr. Mahathir claimed that Malaysia is a 'police state', a charge vehemently denied by the Inspector-General of Police himself. But on Sunday, it took about 500 men-in-blue to police about 100 marchers celebrating UN World Human Rights Day in KL. The peaceful morning march was stopped and several lawyers and human rights activists were arrested. Malaysia not a police state? Then why the overkill?

The battle lines have now indeed been drawn. It is quite clear to all and sundry that the Pak Lah government have begun a crackdown on dissent. Charges are being framed against organisers of protests and demonstrations that have rocked the country in recent weeks and they include some leaders of the opposition parties. There is also the dark threat of the ISA. Obviously, this is a move to cow the general populace in a run up to general elections expected to be called anytime soon in the next few months.

Malaysiakini has quoted the prime minister as saying that he will not "shirk his sense of accountability to the greater public, especially in the face of 'police intelligence' about planned violence by the rally organisers." Police 'intelligence'? Thats a classic oxymoron* for sure.

* This doesn't mean 'stupid cow' either ...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Book Signing

(Photo courtesy Mat Salo)

I must confess that I have this morbid distaste for blogs with a black background and small white fonts and have been avoiding them like the plague. A bit hard on me tired old sailor's eyes, you see. So I have been quite guilty of not faithfully following Awang Goneng's blog Kecek-Kecek but was very glad to have met him at the Kinokuniya book store in KLCC yesterday and got him to autograph my copy of his book Growing Up in Trengganu. The book is essentially a collection of his blogs or a 'blook' (?). (Read Elviza's review, here.)

(The pretty cashier at the book store had rolled her eyes when I asked for a 'senior citizens' discount. Sheeesh.)

The occasion was a get-together of a few bloggers to fĂȘte our fellow blogger cum now published author and his wife Kak Teh of Choc-a-Blog, hosted by an old friend Jaflam of Jaff Point. It was also the couple's 28th wedding anniversary. Also present were Mat Salo, Zawi, Zabs, Elviza and her little boy Luqman, Dr. Bubbles, Akmal et al.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Nation of Retards

A couple of weeks ago, I told off a rude commenter in my blog who had accused others of behaving like retards, that he obviously was a product of the system which is now consistently making us all look like retards on the international scene. Perhaps I was not very far off with my assessment.

Recent reports of the intended appointment of Tan Sri Zaki Azmi as President of the Court of Appeal and therefore next in line for the post of Chief Justice is not really surprising. I have no problems if ex UMNO lawyer Zaki, who was 'helicoptered' into the system by the executive, is not the most senior or haven't done real time on the bench or have spent too much time in the corporate world. It is his private life which is seriously in question.(Read about it, here).

The judiciary should be a bastion of integrity, honesty, forthrightness and true independence. At the moment I believe judicial morale is also at a very low ebb. We need to sort out the judiciary and restore the full confidence of the rakyat. The powers-that-be should not be allowed to continue to opt for self serving political expediency and damn the consequences.

Fellow blogger Haris Ibrahim of The People's Parliament have started a petition to the Agong (read here), to try and stop the rot. Lets all give him our support. E-mail your full name and IC number to:

Lets not become a nation of retards. We will only have ourselves to blame.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

How to start each day with a positive outlook

Someone e-mailed me this little snippet which I thought was rather funny:

1. Open a 'new file' in your computer.

2. Name it, 'Pak Lah.'

3. Now delete it and send it to the 'trash' or 'recycle bin'.

4. Empty the 'trash.'

5. Your computer will ask you, 'Are you sure you want to get rid of 'Pak Lah?'

6. Firmly, click 'Yes.'

7. Feel better?

Next week we'll do Sammy Vellu ...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Happy days are here again?

(Source: The Star)

Yesterday's the Star reports (read here) that the worst is over for Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ). At the launching of PKFZ new logo on Thursday, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy (photo, right) said,"Investors, including big multinational names, are bringing in millions of ringgit and job opportunities are expected to increase by a hefty 2,252% by the end of next year."

Oh yeah? Job opportunities for whom? Who are these big multinationals?

"Although the Government is expected to provide Port Klang Authority with a soft loan amounting to RM4.6bil to develop the PKFZ, every sen of the loan would be repaid," Chan said."The life span of PKFZ is more than 50 years. It is long enough for repayment. Once the loan is settled, PKFZ will be a good income generator."

Hello, haven't you been listening? The issue here is how did a project which should only cost between RM1.8 to RM2 billion ballooned to RM4.6 billion? What happened to the RM2.6 billion? If the project was deemed very viable at the outset, why the need for a government soft loan, or to put it bluntly, a bailout?

I hear that to make it look good, rentals and leases are now being offered at very low rates. How to pay back the taxpayers money? Full repayment in 50 years? How is this price cutting affecting the local business market?

(Above photo also shows my former boss, a very happy Tan Sri Gnanalingam of Westport (center) who had pleaded poverty and paid me peanuts, but is now listed by Forbes as one of the 40 richest men in the country. Sheeesh.)