Monday, March 31, 2008

Malaysians in Motion

Earlier today I attended a luncheon at the Royal Selangor Golf Club, hosted by my friend and former High Court judge Dato Syed Ahmad Idid, to bid farewell and God-speed to a mutual friend and fellow mariner Capt. Abdul Ghani Ishak. Capt Ghani, together with his lovely wife Alison and their 3-year-old son Adrian, will start their 30-month adventure of a lifetime on a five-leg journey starting May 1 by a 4WD vehicle overland across 5 continents. They will begin from London and travel across Europe, Africa, North and South America, Australia and Asia. They expect to finish the journey in October 2010. (Read Friday 28th March NST online report of the expedition, here).

The family, which calls itself Malaysians in Motion, has bought and fitted a Nissan Patrol 4x4 with the necessary equipment as they intend to cook on their own and sleep outdoors."We have named our vehicle 'Tuah', after the legendary Malay warrior, and of course, it also means luck," says Capt Ghani.

The expedition has the support of Tourism Malaysia. Rainforest Challenge has also stepped in as a sponsor, but the expedition is largely self-funded. Capt. Ghani says he welcomes more sponsors from Malaysia.

Malaysians can keep track of this plucky family's progress via their website:

(Above photo taken at RSGC. From left: Tuan Hj. Abdul Rahman Azubir, Dato Syed Ahmad Idid, yours truly, Capt. Ghani)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth Hour

When I would usually doze off or fiddle with my cellphone, I was pleasantly surprised yesterday afternoon during Friday prayers when the young Imam spoke about saving the environment instead of the usual tiresome sermon about saving everybody's souls and hinting darkly about 'enemies of Islam', etc. A sign of better things to come with the new state administration? Wallah-u-alam.

Anyway, theStar online reports, here, that Penangites have been urged to turn off their home lights for an hour, between 8pm and 9pm on Saturday 29 March 2008, that is today, to participate in the Earth Hour 2008 campaign in conjunction with Malaysia's first Earth Day. This is to join 24 other cities worldwide to reduce global warming by reducing energy usage and wastage.

Earth Hour started as a joint initiative among WWF-Australia, Fairfax Media and Leo Burnett for the city of Sydney with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Sydney by 5% in 2007. Those interested to be part of this global campaign can also sign up for Earth Hour at:

We can all also do our part in our own small ways. So lights off tonight for an hour at 2000 hrs. Afraid of the dark? Go light a candle.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Just Deserts

(Source: Malaysiakini)

The recalcitrant Terengganu ADUNs or state assemblymen were reportedly in tears when told yesterday that UMNO bigwigs have decided to kowtow to the King's wishes that Ahmad Said be made mentri besar. Unconfirmed reports also said that 3 of them, including the former MB Idris Jusoh, have been stripped off their state datukships. If this is true, then serve them bloody right.

Rumours were also flying around yesterday that the prime minister had resigned but this turned out to be just that, rumours. With the MSM shirking their job it is no wonder that the rakyat has now more faith in cell-phone text messages and websites. In any case, Pak Lah has denied any serious 'loss of face' on his part for having to accede to the wishes of the King after having declared that Ahmad's appointment is 'unconstitutional'. I believe the Attorney-General also did not get his audience with the King, perhaps because His Majesty did not particularly relish a lecture on constitutional law at this stage.

There will be a mammoth reception by the people to pledge loyalty and support for the King or Yang di Pertuan Agong, who is also the Sultan, when he returns to Terengganu for the weekend tomorrow. In the meantime, police are also investigating and out to nab the culprits who had put up banners insulting the palace and in support of Idris Jusoh.

Anybody else for a slice of that humble pie?

"Politicians and diapers have one thing in common.
They should both be changed regularly ... and for the same reason."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Judicial Reform

The government must make judicial reform its topmost priority to restore public confidence in the institution, said Gerakan acting president and former Penang chief minister Dr Koh Tsu Khoon yesterday. Read the Malaysiakini report, here.

"Apologising to the judges suspended or sacked 20 years ago will be gracious for a start, as suggested by the new minister in PM's Department, Zaid Ibrahim. However, what is even more important is that concrete steps must be taken as soon as possible, and seen to be taken towards restoring judicial authority, integrity and credibility in Malaysia," Koh was quoted as saying by Bernama. He also welcomed and supported Zaid's proposal for the establishment of a judiciary appointment commission as a specific measure.

While we are on the subject, perhaps the government should also consider apologising and making the necessary compensations to my learned good friend former High Court judge Dato Syed Ahmad Idid. About 12 years ago, Dato Syed had to quit his job after his letter exposing corruption and abuse of power in the judiciary was dismissed as 'without basis' by his superiors. Read also my earlier blog posting, here.

Describing himself as a judge whose "conscience divulged the truth 12 years ago and now proved 'correct correct correct' via latest video-clip", Dato Syed Ahmad Idid will be a guest speaker at B.U.M 2008 scheduled for 1st of May 2008. Click on teaser below for details.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

PKFZ: Time for Reckoning

Malaysiakini reports, here, that the Selangor state government wants to take over and manage operations at the RM4.68 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) as part of its overall revamp of troubled projects and corporations within the state to bring these back to the black.

Rather than letting this Port Klang project go to waste at taxpayers' expense, the state government will take it over at book value of RM1 or RM2 and try to turn it around to make it economically viable, said Selangor's new Mentri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim (photo).

Khalid, however, said the federal government’s bailout of PKFZ with a 'soft loan' has not resolved the ‘internal’ issues relating to the alleged irregularities, and has not assured its economic viability either. “Who are the sub-contractors? What are the costs involved in that (project?). We can help unravel all the issues to correct the position,” he said.

“I think the least (that) the public expect is that people who benefited from this must pay for their sins or crimes (through legal action).”

Khalid should know what he is talking about. A former corporate giant, he was very briefly and indirectly also my former boss in the early 90's when Klang Port was privatised to the Permodalan Nasional Bhd. My heart went out to him when I saw him directing traffic in full baju melayu at Anwar Ibrahim's open house during the last Hari Raya Puasa. The time for reckoning is here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Enter the Royals Pt. 2

(Source: Malaysiakini)

I refused to jump in the DAP's Lim Kit Siang bashing bandwagon last week when he advised his Perak ADUNs to stay away from the swearing in ceremony. It was indeed a bad call and Lim was called biadap or disrespectful but he has subsequently apologised to the Regent of Perak.

Anyway, short of lèse majesté or whatever, what does one make of the above Terengganu ADUNs or state assemblymen (photo) who has chosen to spurn their ruler's choice of Mentri Besar? Malaysiakini reports that prime minister Abdullah Badawi has declared "unconstitutional" the appointment of Ahmad Said as the new Terengganu MB, in a "rare showdown with the nation's royal rulers". The NST has also said in an editorial that an unhappy relationship between the MB and royal rulers could only result in "trouble and acrimony".

This "Mexican standoff" has had precedents in the past and these hotshot ADUNs from Terengganu should take note that they can come and go but HRH the Sultan, who is also the present Yang di Pertuan Agong, will still be there. His place is guaranteed under the federal constitution unless Pak Lah has the balls to turn this country into a republic or something.

It promises to be a very interesting week ahead indeed.

... is coming !

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I wasnt exactly holding my breath over yesterday's announcement of the new 'trimmed-down' cabinet line-up by the prime minister. More of the same, I thought. In fact, PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim has warned that the new cabinet line-up will only spark more turmoil in UMNO. “The other coalition partners are also in serious trouble. They cannot claim to have the support of their own communities and constituents any more,” he said. (Read the Malaysiakini report, here).

I was more excited over reports that Selangor’s newly appointed Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim have said that he was going to review a lop-sided water supply agreement entered by the previous state government with two companies on the eve of the polling day. “I have noticed there is some imbalance between the revenues (that would have been accorded) to the state and the people," he said. This 'sweetheart deal' based on political influence would only have enriched the people who got the concession. Selfish crony capitalism, if you ask me.

Perhaps this is the start of more reviews in future of many more lop-sided deals made by the previous administration e.g., the toll road concessionaires, et al. Of special interest to me is the dubious land deal made with another favourite 'sweetheart', Kuala Dimensi/Wijaya Baru for the Port Klang Free Zone land which the outgoing parliamentary Public Accounts Committee have failed miserably to uncover ... and the PAC chairman is now a full minister. Sheesh.

Anyway, things are beginning to get more interesting, eh?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Enter the Royals

In Malay, we say retak menanti belah or cracks leading to disintegration, or words to that effect.

While the ruling Barisan Nasional federal government were possibly gloating over the hiccups happening in the formation of 4 state governments it lost in the recent general election, all is not peachy in the states of Perlis and Terengganu where HRH the Raja and the Sultan respectively have chosen to exercise their constitutional rights over the choice of Mentris Besar. Earlier, the Sultan of Selangor and the Regent of Perak have also indicated that they were not willing to accept just about anyone they feel will not serve the interests of their states and their subjects. Another constitutional crisis in the making?

To top it all, Mukhriz son of former prime minister Dr Mahathir has followed in his father's footsteps by writing a letter asking Pak Lah to quit, a day after he had affirmed his undivided support. Chances are now he will be given the boot like his father suffered about 40 years ago. Posters (photo, from Rocky's blog) have also been put up in public places in support of his call. Some members of BN component parties are also calling for their leaders to step down.

There have also been illegal street demonstrations by UMNO groups in Penang and elsewhere when not very long ago they have said that such public displays of protests are not the 'Malaysian way'. Sheeesh.

Anyway, lots of luck to United Malays National Organisation. They have again not only successfully divided the Malays but also their own members. Our founding fathers must surely be rolling in their graves about now.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Good Advice, Bad Advice

Lim Kit Siang is only the adviser to the Democratic Action Party (DAP). His call for DAP to boycott the PAS candidate Perak MB swearing in ceremony was indeed being biadab or disrespectful to the Regent, especially since the royal decision was based on an earlier premise that the choice of candidate will be accepted by all parties. Bad advice. Lim has since apologised to the Regent but the ceremony I believe has been postponed because PKR has now threatened to leave the coalition government due to some misunderstanding. Again, PKR must have been wrongly advised. (Read the Malaysiakini report, here).

Earlier, Gerakan's Lim Keng Yaik has also voiced out his concerns to the prime minister about 'bad advisers' in the Barisan Nasional fold (read Rocky's take on this, here) and his view that 'cowboys' are spoiling the name of the party. Pretty good advice here, methinks.

Of late we are also getting free unsolicited advice from the likes of the former prime minister, his former deputy Musa Hitam et al, which to my mind are not really much help to the political situation in the country. This also reminds me of the joke about the young executive who came out of his first board meeting looking very pleased with himself. When someone asked what happened, he said, "I think I have been appointed a "sexual adviser" to the boss."

"Sexual adviser to the boss? What do you mean?"

"Well, every time I opened my mouth to say something, the boss said whenever he wants my fucking advice he will ask for it!"

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Al Fatihah

(Source: Sin Chew Jit Poh)

Datuk Zakaria Md Derus, 62, the former Port Klang Assemblyman who gained fame as the controversial builder of the illegal personal palatial mansion (photo) in Pandamaran, has died yesterday morning of a heart attack. Read yesterday's Malaysiakini report, here.

Read also my earlier blog about him: Rich Politician, Poor Politician, here.

I am not one to speak ill of the dead but the man has gone to meet his Maker where he may have to answer some very tough questions and I do not envy him. It also goes to show that you just cannot take it with you.

Al Fatihah.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Aftermath

A funny thing happened at the Kelana Jaya polling station yesterday. As I walked past the BN tent with my family in tow, I jokingly asked the head honcho who happens to be a neighbour of mine,"OK, where's my MONEY?"

O boy, I will never forget the startled look on his face. But the man quickly recovered his composure, patted my arm reassuringly and said,"Later, cap'n, later. Please go and vote first".


Anyway, the rakyat has spoken. Not only has the Opposition Barisan Rakyat denied the ruling BN government a two-third majority in parliament but is now set to form the government in 5 key states. Syabas to the people of Malaysia.

I was at the Blog House in Damansara until late last night with fellow bloggers Tony, Haris, Ewoon, Shar101 and others to monitor incoming election results live from Malaysiakini and also from other sources at various polling centers in the country. Each good news was greeted with loud cheering by all present. Someone even brought a cake to celebrate Samy's birthday and departure.

There is hope for all of us yet.

Friday, March 07, 2008

50 Years is Enough

All hands on deck.

With less than 24 hours to go, I am not one to ceramah or sermonise but if you are reading this, then I take it that you have the brains to think and old enough to vote. So lets do it tomorrow. Lets change this corrupt and inept government and get us a new one. Lets not be fooled again.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Mother of All Commissions

Lawyer and fellow blogger Wee Choo Keong, who is standing for the Wangsa Maju parliamentary seat on a PKR ticket, has submitted a written submission to the Royal Commission Of Enquiry, which he has described as the "Mother of All Commissions", on the VK Lingam video clip with regard to the appointment of judges. It contains several recommendations. Read the full version, here.

In the words of a learned good friend and similarly much maligned and long suffering former member of the bench: " With this comes the penultimate end of the judiciary on trial and along with it in fact, the very core of integrity of the country, in the eyes of the civilised world at large.

Judges, highest ranking officers of the law courts, the final arbiter, bastion of justice, guardian of the nation's conscience, you will now do right by the people whose trust they have implicitly placed upon you, by virtue of the office you hold, lest you sell your souls to the devil !

May He proffer you divine guidance and have mercy on the future of our blessed beloved nation!"

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Sell Out

I was quite appalled to read Chandra Muzaffar's very personal attack against Anwar Ibrahim (read today's the Star's report, here ) when he said that it will be an “unmitigated disaster” for Malaysia if Anwar becomes prime minister. Since he was a top PKR man himself, it is rather daunting to imagine the sudden wave of disillusionment that must have swept over such a 'brilliant' man and cause him to utter such balls.

I first met Dr. Chandra Muzaffar (photo) sometime in early 1983. He was then riding high as an academic cum NGO human rights activist and had been invited to speak at an Asia Pacific Regional Conference of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) in Kuala Lumpur, which I chaired as a founder chairman of the ITF Malaysian Council. I cannot recall what he spoke about, something about union rights I think, but I remember the strike-happy Aussie dockers unions were full of praise of him and wanted cassette tape copies of his speech. I wasn't very impressed and neither was the late Dr. V. David of the Transport Workers Union, who co-chaired the conference. We believed then that it was easy to be gung-ho and say a lot things when you are not carrying the baby or be responsible for the rights and livelihood of many member workers.

Perhaps there is something to be said about the old adage: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach". So perhaps also Chandra should just stick to teaching and not get involved in politics and the affairs of men.

What a sell out, indeed.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Letter to Malaysiakini

To: The Editor,

Dear Sir,

Baradan Kuppusamy has reached too capacious a conclusion based on scanty evidence when he wrote in “An evening with Anwar Ibrahim" that the PKR leader is drawing small crowds of Malays to his ceramah. Surely, the numbers that turned up for Anwar at his recent ceramah at Wangsa Maju and Bandar Tun Razak are not to be taken as representative of the norm.

In late December and January, no less than Malaysiakini itself reported that in Kedah, Penang and Perlis, Anwar drew crowds of Malays numbering in the thousands. He has also drawn sizeable crowds of Chinese and Indian listeners to his gatherings, particularly along the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

To say that Anwar is not a draw among the Malays is a rather strange conclusion given recent reports in Malaysiakini and hearsay. Baradan may well be right if he said that large crowds at ceramah do not necessarily translate into victories at the ballot box, but to say that Anwar is not a magnet among Malay listeners is to gainsay the evidence assembled by Malaysiakini and sundry others who came, saw and were impressed.


Capt. Yusof Ahmad

(Footnote: I very rarely write letters to the news media and this is one which for some reason did not get published).

Saturday, March 01, 2008

GE - Time for Change

(Click to enlarge)

Click here, for the Malay version.

Note: Posters by kind courtesy of the Kuala Lumpur-based Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI). Please feel free to reproduce, print or redistribute.