Saturday, January 31, 2009

On-Off KLIA East

The controversial proposal for a new RM1.6 billion low cost carrier terminal (LCCT) at KLIA East @ Labu has apparently been shelved following a meeting yesterday between DPM Najib and the two key project proponents - budget carrier AirAsia and conglomerate Sime Darby. This again is after a public hue and cry similar to the one I mentioned earlier in my previous blog. It possibly has also become too costly politically for the administration who must have feared a backlash. (Read The Malaysian Insider [TMI] report, here)

“The DPM played the role of an honest broker. He did not take sides but wanted to make sure that national interest was served. This could only happen if the new LCCT was built in KLIA but Air Asia’s legitimate interests and concerns were addressed,” a government official told TMI.

With the recent IJN brouhaha safely tucked under his belt, Najib must now be relishing his role as a so-called public saviour. But then the question which must be asked is why wasnt the parties involved forced to the negotiating table earlier? As pointed out by TMI, this episode certainly raises some serious questions over decision-making in the government.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Murder he said

I find it rather disturbing that nowadays the powers-that-be will act on issues only after widespread public hue and cry. A case in point is the recent decision by the Attorney-General to reclassify the death of police detainee A. Kugan as murder and calling for the arrests of the policemen responsible.

Kugan, 22, was detained for questioning on January 15 in connection with several luxury car theft cases. He died on Tuesday while in custody at the Taipan police station in Subang Jaya, allegedly due to assault. His family had become extremely suspicious of the numerous unexplained injuries found on his body. A second post-mortem autopsy on the deceased will be conducted today, three days after the family had called off his funeral.

Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar had caused a stir earlier when he said that Kugan, who did not have any past criminal record, died due to 'fluids in the lungs'. He also claimed that there was no foul play involved.

The integrity, accountability and transparency of the Royal Malaysian Police and the AG's office in issuing statements, just to create an atmosphere to subdue public outcry, are now seriously in question. It will surely take more than a simple PR exercise for the police and the AG to regain the respect and trust of the rakyat. I believe there have been some 1535 deaths in police custody between 2003 and 2007. An alarming number indeed. A truly Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) does really seem to be very relevant now.

Here's wishing a hearty Gong Xi Fa Cai to all my Chinese friends.

Friday, January 23, 2009

We will not go down (Song for Gaza)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

East Coast Disaster

For the ruling Barisan Nasional, that is.

Although he has dismissed it only as a 'minor setback', losing a parliamentary 'buy" election in a Malay heartland again must surely be very painful for PM-in-waiting Najib, who had tirelessly led the BN campaign in Kuala Terengganu. And if even MCA's Ong Takut Kata is convinced when he 'was told' that the KT Chinese support for BN has actually increased, then its either these BN people are just thick or in a permanent state of denial.

Even Ku Li, here, has called the loss more than a "referendum" on the leadership. "We lost because of a national problem. The rakyat reject UMNO in its present form and style, and they reject its leadership," he said. But the immediate response from the leadership, yet again, is that "this should not be interpreted as voters having spurned BN".


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Kuala Terengganu

I have never really been to Kuala Terengganu (KT), only passing briefly through the town center a few months ago after visiting the new Crystal Mosque (photo) complex, the only place there worth seeing, I think. I was then on my way for a few days of beach bumming with some friends in Tok Bali, Kelantan. Earlier, the furthest place up north on the east coast I have been to was Kertih, where a few years ago I did a couple of consultancy and audit jobs with some associates for the Petronas port. Driving through shabby towns, kampungs and countryside, we could not then really see where the billions in oil royalty money went.

When blogger Rocky asked me yesterday at Tok Mommy's MRT why I am not in KT with our other blogger friends for the parliamentary by-election there this weekend, I had to confess that I cannot even remember the names of the three candidates. I can recall there is somewan called Wan something or other and that's about it. Unlike Permatang Pauh, for me KT is just another minor 'empire skirmish' for the ruling party and I seriously doubt that the outcome will change anything or make much of a difference to the status quo in the short term. Besides, I am also currently up to my bloody ears in work.

My blogger friend Shar101 is rightfully peeved, here, I think, about the 'dirty tricks' and 'heavy guns' from Putrajaya being brought to bear in the by-election. Nothing surprising here, old bean. But in the final analysis, it is really up to the oghang Kuala Teganung to decide and I hope they will, wisely.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Palestine Relief Fund

Martyred Children of Gaza

There's absolutely no excuse for the above.

While big brother the US of A slumbers in between presidents, more than 700 Palestinians, 219 of which are children, have been killed by the Israeli army. More than 3000 have been wounded. One now wonders whether the Israeli supremacists did indeed choose the right moment to murder Palestinian babies. Yet there is more to come.

MERCY MALAYSIA has, on 30th December 2008, formed an Emergency Response Assessment Team to face the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza strip and appeals to generous Malaysians to send donations. Contributions for the PALESTINE RELIEF FUND will support Mercy Malaysia to procure emergency surgical kits, medicine and hospital equipments to help the hospitals in Gaza.
  • Cheques to be made payable to “MERCY MALAYSIA” and addressed to: Mercy Malaysia, Level 2, Podium Block, City Point, Kompleks Dayabumi, Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin, 50050 Kuala Lumpur.
  • Cash donations can be made via on-line transmission or deposit at CIMB Bank Account No: 1424-000-6561053.
  • For further enquiries, telephone +603-22733999 or email:
Please give what you can. It will make a difference.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Failed Privatisation

One afternoon some time in early 1984, as president of the Klang Port Authority's Senior Officers' Association (SOA), I was summoned for a meeting with the then prime minister Dr. Mahathir at his office in Kuala Lumpur. Also with me were fellow presidents Ruslan Zainal of the Port Authority Staff Union (PASU) and Mohd. Nor Katim of the Harbour Workers' Union (HWU). The Government had then announced a 'privatisation policy' involving GLCs and other 'national assets' and the PM wanted to formally inform us of the intention to privatise (only) the port's container terminal.

Probably expecting some opposition on being made "guinea pigs" or whatever, Dr. M immediately took us to task in his usual style, but we just played it cool. We were actually quite enthusiastic about the idea and did not think that anything could possibly go wrong because the terminal, the country's first, was already then quite efficient and making money, lots of money. There was also talk that even staff not involved in the exercise would be given "pink forms' to acquire shares when the new company, Klang Container Terminal Sdn Bhd. (KCT), finally gets listed at the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange. KCT was fully privatised in March 1986.

I have now come to believe that with very few exceptions, as in above KCT case, privatisation as a whole in this country as initiated by Dr M, has failed miserably. The objective which was supposed to ease the government's financial burdens, increase productivity and lower costs have not been achieved. Instead, we have expensive bailouts due to corruption and cronyism, more complaints about inefficiency and the expected reduced costs have not been felt by the rakyat. Obviously, the intention was good but the implementation half-assed.

It took some agitation by a few bloggers, here, and the public at large, for Sime Darby to finally jettison its intention to privatise the Institut Jantung Negara (IJN) yesterday. (Read the Malaysiakini report, here). Why the proposal was even ever considered by the government has never been fully explained. One can only guess at the outcome that perhaps its because we have all become very disillusioned especially when there is lack of transparency in the whole process. Perhaps we just need change and perhaps also it is time we should now seriously consider "nationalisation" instead?