Wednesday, October 29, 2008

PKFZ Redux

(Source: Malaysiakini)

In an exclusive, Malaysiakini reports today, here, that a six-member team from the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) has begun auditing the controversial RM4.6 billion 'soft loan' provided by the government to Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ), according to Klang Port Authority chairman Lee Hwa Beng. The assignment is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

On why auditing has been delayed - when an announcement on this had been made in May - Lee attributed it to procedural requirements. Indeed, this is welcome news especially since for quite some time I have been trying to confirm rumours that the audit firm has not even received its appointment letter.

Transport Minister Ong Tee Kiat had entrusted Lee with appointing the auditor and to assist the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) should the latter conduct a probe. Lee, however, said there has not been any follow-up on the matter by the PAC since he took over the post. This is hardly surprising since to my mind, PAC under previous chairman Shahrir Samad had failed to complete its much-hyped job when it did not summon the Attorney-General to explain the dubious PKFZ land deal.

If you recall, the Sun had reported in May that Lee has stated that PKFZ was a bad idea to start with. “People have no confidence in the ACA (Anti-Corruption Agency) or PAC (Public Accounts Committee), so this (audit) is the best option,” he also said. (Read my earlier posting on this, here).

Lets hope this wont be just another extravagant exercise in futility either.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Happy Deepavali

Happy Deepavali to all my Hindu friends here and everywhere.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Money Politics

No less than UMNO veteran and foreign minister Rais Yatim has confimed that "the majority" of UMNO members were more interested in making money out of the election than in voting for the right person. (Read the Malaysiakini report, here). He said he had been asked to pay for votes in an upcoming contest for top posts, and warned that money politics would destroy the organisation.

So what else is new.

"The majority of UMNO people want to look for money and not for good leaders," said Rais, a member of UMNO's decision-making committee who is vying for the vice-presidency. ""We have been approached under the cloak of assistance and cloak of contribution. (But) I'm not a player so you don't see my marks going up very high," he told reporters.

In other words, if you dont want to play ball, you can kiss the VP post goodbye. This really doesnt say much about the leadership, eh wot?

Rais, who has been with UMNO for over 33 years, said money politics within the ruling party should be eradicated or it will "surely kill the party." He adds, "If UMNO cannot curb this practice, UMNO's future is done for because this has been (talked about) for the past two decades and it has not been curbed."

Well, since no one seems to be doing anything about this, I am all for "curbing" this corrupt party before it drags down the whole country into deep shit.

Meanwhile, the Star online also reports, here, that Rais told reporters that “If the scourge should take further hold in the party, it would be just better for UMNO to have a tender system so that anyone who contributes the highest amount can be a leader!”


Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Last Honest UMNO Politician

At the invitation of my second cousin Datin Halimah Said, I was back in my hometown Seremban this morning for the launching of Galeri JASA Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Mohamed Said bin Mohamed, at her family home in Gedung Lalang. It was a most welcome homecoming indeed for yours truly to meet long lost kith and kin, also for a belated Hari Raya gathering.

Galeri JASA commemorates the life and times of her late father and my uncle Dr. Mohamed Said (photo) as the first elected Mentri Besar of Negeri Sembilan, the first Malay medical doctor and an individual of profound literary interests. The gallery houses rare documents of our Linggi-Bugis heritage, his medical research into rare tropical diseases such as elephantiasis, kwashiorkor, gangrene and others, his published memoirs and articles documenting his thoughts and challenges as the first elected MB of Negeri Sembilan after merdeka.

The launch was officiated by Tun Dato’ Seri Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid, who served as a young District Officer in Negeri Sembilan under the late Dr. Mohamed Said's administration. Tun Ahmad Sarji describes his former boss as "an outstanding Malay leader of impeccable integrity and intellect”.

Educated at the Malay College, Kuala Kangsar and later at the King Edward VII College of Medicine in Singapore just before World War 2, the late Dr. Mohd Said was a pukka upright gentleman of the old school and honest to a fault. He served as MB for two terms (1959 to 1969) and steadfastly refused a federal cabinet post as Health Minister under the Tunku, our first prime minister.

After his brief stint in politics, Dr. Mohamed Said went back to private practice for a few years before retiring and leading a quiet life, reading and writing his memoirs*. He passed away after a short illness in 1996. Indeed, his old wooden bungalow turned kampung kindergarten is miles apart from the palatial 4-storey mansion built by an also departed ordinary UMNO politician in Port Klang. (Read my earlier blog: "Rich Politician, Poor Politician", here)

To my mind, the late Tan Sri Dato Dr Mohamed Said bin Mohamed was the last clean and honest UMNO politician.
*Memoirs of a Menteri Besar : Early days
Author: Tan Sri Dato' Dr. Mohamad Said bin Mohamed.
Publisher: Heinemann Asia, 1982 .

Friday, October 17, 2008

Scaredy Cops

I could hardly believe my eyes when I read today's the Star online report, here, that a police beat base in the Chow Kit area of downtown Kuala Lumpur was closed down because it was in a location that was considered unsafe, according to Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar.

In a written reply in parliament to Dr Lo’ Lo’ of PAS, Syed Hamid said the beat base was located in a "dirty" area where there was a possibility of being exposed to contagious diseases. "The presence of criminals also posed a threat to the safety of police officers," he said.


Dr Mohd Hatta of PAS then suggested that Syed Hamid resign if he is worried about the safety of police in that area. "Maybe it would be better to put the beat base in army barracks,” he said. “The police are there to make a place safe. If they themselves are scared and run away, then how can we hope for others to want to be there?"

He adds, “And what is this about contagious diseases on Jalan Haji Taib? The only kind of contagious diseases that are present there are sexually-transmitted ones. Is the minister scared that his charges will contract such diseases?"

He probably have never heard of "safe sex" either.

Read also my friend Shar101's take on this, here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How did these jokers pass muster?

Looking at UMNO's line up as they play musical chairs, one begs to ask the question.

I have absolutely no respect for jokers* who cannot make it on their own steam but have to hang on to daddy's coattails to get to their exalted status. Heading the list is a mama's boy whose very integrity is suspect and stinks to high heaven. O boy.

And then there are the has-beens who think we all have short memories.

That the country's leadership will be decided by 2000-odd class F contractors and their ilk sends shivers down me old timbers.

Surely we Malaysians deserve better.

* Tun Dr M's word, not mine.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


(Click arrow to play)

By the end of 1978, there were nearly 62,000 Vietnamese ‘boat people’ in camps throughout Southeast Asia. As the numbers grew, so too did local hostility. Adding to the tension was the fact that several of the boats arriving on the shores of countries in Southeast Asia were not small wooden fishing craft but steel-hulled freighters chartered by regional smuggling syndicates and carrying over 2,000 people at a time.
-TIME magazine, Dec. 04, 1978

The 1500-tonnne m.v. Hai Hong was an old coastal vessel and a regular caller at Port Klang until one fateful night 30 years ago on November 9th 1978, when arriving at the southern pilot station, the ship's master coolly radioed my Pilot Office for permission to proceed in on her own and anchor in the harbour.

It was fortunate then that one of the office staff remembered reading in the newspapers that the vessel had been sighted at sea a few days earlier off the east coast, filled to the brim with refugees. He promptly ordered the ship to anchor near Pulau Pintu Gedung at the southern approaches of the port. There was also no advice from her local agents, so the police, immigration, customs, harbour master and port health authorities were quickly alerted.

The ship remained outside port limits under heavy guard for a few months while the Malaysian government decided what to do with the 2500-odd Vietnamese refugees living in very cramped and deplorable conditions aboard the tiny vessel. Food, water and medicine often ran short of supply and diseases were rampant.

After initially ordering the vessel to go back to wherever she came from, it was only due to representations from UNHCR and after the United States' Carter administration and a few other countries agreed to resettle them all that the refugees were finally brought ashore by the authorities. They were taken to a makeshift and fenced-in camp in Cheras, along the new north-south highway, which had been specially built for the purpose. From here, they were all then flown directly to the USA and elsewhere in small batches, but only after long drawn-out processes which took many months.

Meanwhile, the Hai Hong was brought in to anchor in North Shore at the entrance to the South Port where she remained for some time after the owners and crew had abandoned her. Tenders were out to auction and salvage her for scrap but there were no takers. The ship was subsequently towed and anchored at a site out of the way of shipping traffic, off Pulau Tonggok in Selat Lumut near the new bridge to Pulau Indah and leading to West Port and the Port Klang Free Zone. There she remained for a few years until one day she took in water and sank, very slowly, into her watery grave and disappeared completely from view.

I hear the site is now a favourite spot for weekend anglers in Port Klang.

P.S.: Sorry folks, but I was getting a bit cheesed off with the turn of events in the local socio-political scene that I decided to write about something else instead in the meantime ...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Perlis Mufti to Quit

There is a 'strong possibility' that religious leader Dr. Asri Zainul Abidin (photo) will quit at the end this month as the Mufti of Perlis. Malaysiakini reports, here, that he may retire one year early instead of serving out his full term till October 2009.

Dr. Asri confirmed reports of rumours that he will retire much earlier after serving as a state Mufti since 2006. He said he is under "great pressure" to do so but refused to elaborate. Internet reports have made much of the fact that he has been extremely vocal on several issues including the recent use of the Internal Security Act (ISA) by the government to arrest dissidents. (Read my earlier posting: 'Whither the Muftis?", here).

In light of the PM's power transition plan, Dr. Asri has written in his blog "Minda Mufti", here, on the responsibility of Muslims to choose leaders with integrity. He also pointed out that leadership change among Muslims is a major issue and leadership posts are not "spoils of war" to be divided at will amongst them.

I have only one request for the good Dr. Asri as his last hurrah before retiring: Issue a fatwa banning the use of the ISA ...

Friday, October 03, 2008

Enemies in the Blanket

At this point in time, I do not really envy Anwar Ibrahim. The Sun online reports, here, that DAP national chairman Karpal Singh said any crossover by MPs to Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is “deplorable and unethical”. He also said PR should not rely on “traitors and disloyal elements” from Barisan Nasional (BN) to form a new federal government.

Karpal now joins Tan Seng Giaw and Lim Guan Eng (responding to media request to comment on Tunku Aziz's (who?) statement on crossover MPs ...

With friends like these, who needs enemies.

Personally, I have no qualms about people who want to jump ship if it is for the common good. Morality be damned. The country is going to the dogs and I am all for whatever it takes to put this right. (Read my earlier posting: "And now, a word about jumping ship ... ", here).

My blogger friend Shar101 asks: Is UMNO’s future path and survival synonymous with the national agenda?

He opines, "top most in terms of a national agenda particularly after BN’s disastrous outing in GE12 is national reconciliation which UMNO, with its present ‘hand-me-down’ leadership transition plan, is ill equipped to provide because its own democratic reforms are virtually non-existent."

Disgruntled UMNO and BN MPs who want to jump ship should be welcomed with open arms. The national agenda should always take precedence.