31 August, 2006

Happy Birthday Malaysia !

Happy Birthday Malaysia ! Grand 49th National day

Or should it be 39th birthday, 10th anniversary ? According to Lim Kit Siang :

'As a result, a Barisan Nasional component party leader has admitted that on the occasion of the 49th National Day, nation-building in the country “had gone backwards, minus 10 Merdeka years”.'

KUCHING: Padang Merdeka in the heart of the city here came alive with declarations pledging loyalty to the nation, lively performances by people in colourful attire, uniformed bodies and bands, and various cultural performances as Malaysia celebrated its 49th National Day.

The Yang di Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail, and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Fauziah Tengku Abdul Rashid, and the Cabinet led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi joined thousands of Malaysians taking part in the grand celebration here this morning.

While maintaining the theme, "Kerana Mu Malaysia", this year's celebration also carries a sub-theme, "Misi Nasional Penjana Wawasan" (National Mission Generates Vision), aimed at highlighting the five main thrusts of the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP).(Star)


Malaysia PM expected to stand his ground in budget

Malaysia's premier is likely to resist the temptation to deliver a popular budget on Friday, opting for fiscal prudence despite pressure to spend more.

With talk of an early election and government coffers boosted by oil revenue, the budget for 2007 would seem the perfect platform for Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to woo Malaysians burdened by higher interest rates and dearer fuel and electricity.

But Abdullah, who is also finance minister, is expected to stick to a long-term plan to shrink the budget deficit and find new sources of growth so he can wean the economy off decades of fiscal pump-priming, economists said.

"Abdullah's not in a good position. He's in a Catch-22 situation: damned if you do, damned if you don't," said Chan Kok Peng, chief economist with BNP Paribas Peregrine.

The budget for 2007, Abdullah's third since coming to power in late 2003, is to be unveiled on Friday at 0800 GMT.

Pressure to boost spending is coming from his own party, where his predecessor, Mahathir Mohamad, is fanning dissent with criticism of the current administration.

Mahathir is unhappy that Abdullah has dropped some state projects, such as a planned new bridge to neighbouring Singapore.

"If he does not spend on megaprojects, he will alienate a lot of supporters. If he does it, then they'll say he is bending to Mahathir's pressure," Chan said.

Spending under the budget would probably top this year's 136.8 billion ringgit ($37.2 billion), but the government would avoid large infrastructure projects that were the hallmarks of Mahathir's 22-year reign, economists said.

The deficit in 2006 is forecast to be 18.44 billion ringgit, or 3.5 percent of gross domestic product, down from 3.8 percent in 2005.

Abdullah will probably focus on his priority of developing the farm sector as well as services, manufacturing and education, although it may include bonus payments for civil servants, economists said.

"Overall, the direction is still towards fiscal consolidation," said UOB economist Ho Woei Chen.


Abdullah has to keep the economy motoring along -- economists forecast healthy 5.5 percent growth for this year and next -- while trying to rein in a fiscal deficit that international rating agencies say is keeping Malaysia's ratings down.

"As far as government expenditure is concerned, I think foreign investors will be looking at how deeply Malaysia goes into deficit, but obviously the government has this dilemma because they want to pump prime as well," said Gerry Ambrose, managing director of Aberdeen Asset Management.

Under a five-year state development plan announced in March, Malaysia is harnessing private capital to fund state projects. One local firm has proposed an 8-billion-ringgit bullet train between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

As pressure grows for the government to spend more, the budget is seen as a test of Abdullah's political will.

A pump-priming budget would appease members of the main ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which has strong links with the depressed construction industry.

Mahathir has influence within UMNO and analysts are worried the row could split the party, sparking political instability.

As speculation grows of a general election in late 2007 or early 2008, the budget also has to cater for ordinary Malaysians struggling with rising costs of living.

Fuel prices have risen steeply since Abdullah began cutting state subsidies in 2004 and Malaysia's monopoly power distributor raised prices for the first time in nine years in May.

Malaysia's Q2 growth revs up to 5.9 pct on year

Malaysia's economy grew at its fastest annual pace in almost two years in the second quarter, and the central bank signalled interest rates may yet go higher.

Official figures on Wednesday showed gross domestic product was up 5.9 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, a touch above market forecasts for 5.8 percent growth, as exports and domestic demand held firm.

It was the fastest growth since a 6.8 percent annual rise in the third quarter of 2004, but the central bank indicated it was keeping its options open on interest rates, saying the risks were equally balanced between slowing growth and rising inflation.

"Because they are in balance, we have taken a pause till there is greater clarity on the movements of the indicators for the external environment as well as on energy prices," central bank chief Zeti Akhtar Aziz told reporters.

The ringgit and the yield on the benchmark 10-year government bond were unchanged after the data. The stock market had finished trading.

Bank Negara, the central bank, has raised its key interest rate by a total of 80 basis points since last November. But at 3.50 percent, the rate is still among the lowest in Asia.

Most economists said Malaysia would probably keep rates steady for the rest of 2006, amid signs that higher credit costs were hurting consumer spending.

"The second-half growth momentum will slow down, and on top of that the bank expects inflation to be moderate, so my take is that these two will keep interest rates steady," said Leslie Khoo, Singapore-based regional economist with Forecast Private.

Zeti said on Wednesday the full impact of recent rate rises had mostly been realised.

In a sign of softer consumer spending, the Malaysian Automotive Association, an industry body, has said new vehicle sales are expected to drop 6 percent this year, reversing an earlier forecast of growth, due partly to rising interest rates.

But some economists said Malaysia could raise rates again before year-end to curb inflation, which remains under pressure from high oil prices despite easing from a 7-year high in March.

"The continued growth would leave open the door for another rate hike before the end of the year," said David Cohen, economist with Action Economics. "The rate is relatively modest compared to the inflation -- and by the end of the year, 3.75 percent seems like a good bet right now."


Despite economists' forecast for slower growth for the rest of 2006, Zeti expected Malaysia's trade-driven economy to maintain its growth momemtum, underpinned by strong expansion in Asia and a recovery in Japan and Europe.

The economy is officially forecast to grow 6.0 percent this year but some economists have said Malaysia might not be able to achieve that because U.S. economic growth is slowing.

The central bank revised up annual growth for the first quarter to 5.5 percent from 5.3 percent.

Malaysia does not provide seasonally adjusted figures to show the growth rate between quarters.

Neighbouring Singapore's economy grew 8.1 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, while South Korean gross domestic product expanded a smaller-than-expected 5.3 percent in the same period amid signs of slower U.S. economic expansion.
(Source: Reuter)

30 August, 2006

Nonsense to celebrate Merdeka?

Nonsense to celebrate Merdeka ?

Malaysiakini interviews Parti Gerakan secretary-general Chia Kwang Chye.

(Excerpted from Screen Shot and Lim Kit Siang's blog)

Though we are celebrating Merdeka tomorrow, Chia, who is deputy Minister of Information, said that the row within the component BN parties lately over purportedly racially offensive remarks has made the country gone backwards to its pre-Merdeka days. Quote:

“We always talk about Merdeka (the country’s independence) and Merdeka is so near, yet we are still fighting as though we are in pre-Merdeka days,” Gerakan secretary-general Chia Kwang Chye told malaysiakini in an exclusive interview at Parliament House on Monday.

“You can say it’s nonsense to celebrate Merdeka,” he added when asked about the unity within the ruling coalition in view of the alleged racial sentiments stirred up by an Umno Youth leader recently. [...]

Elaborating, the 54-year-old Chia - who is also deputy information minister - said the Merdeka celebration is ‘not just about raising flags, hands and shout Merdeka’, but it should be practised in true spirit.

“We actually have gone backwards, it should be minus 10 Merdeka years, not 49 years of Merdeka, minus 10 Merdeka(s), this is essentially how we are behaving and I think it’s wrong, we should progress,” he added. [...]

“You can have a situation (then) where a ethnic-based party becomes so strong (and) we worry whether we can have a peaceful, united country,” he explained.

According to media reports, Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin irked MCA and Gerakan leaders after he openly told an Umno Youth meeting that the Chinese Malaysian community would take advantage of a weakened Umno to press for their rights.

On the other hand, the famous Son-in-Law remained firm on his stand and argued any action that “upholds the dignity of religion and interest of ethnic community” does not require an apology.

So, does Chia have an alternative? Quote Malaysiakini:

Meanwhile, the Gerakan sec-gen said that the party would continue to use its ‘Malaysian approach’ to win over more supporters who believe in multiracialism in party politics and hoped that the appeal of ethnic-based parties will be less and eventually fade off.

Gerakan is a multiracial-based BN component party but it is dominated by Chinese Malaysians whereas other major ruling parties including Umno, MCA and MIC are ethnic-based representing the Malays, Chinese Malaysians and Indian Malaysians respectively.

Lim Kit Siang says :

The 49th National Day has been marred some two weeks earlier by the power-behind-the-UMNO-political-throne who trotted out the same canard, warning that Chinese Malaysians would exploit the current infighting within UMNO to advance the community’s interest, and citing Suqiu as example.

As a result, a Barisan Nasional component party leader has admitted that on the occasion of the 49th National Day, nation-building in the country “had gone backwards, minus 10 Merdeka years”.

This is a development which would have been completely unthinkable when Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became the fifth Prime Minister 34 months ago, with his pledge to be Prime Minister for all Malaysians and not just for one community, asking Malaysians to work with him and not for him.

Let us soberly ponder these weighty issues on the 49th National Day as there can be nothing more meaningful than to use the occasion to reaffirm our individual and national commitment to create a Malaysia for all Malaysians, where all her citizens can feel and be proud that they are Malaysians first, and their ethnic and religious identities in second and third places.

On a more positive note, though, perhaps we hope that politicians we voted
will be 'devoted'.


KL politics could derail SGX link-up with Bursa

The fierce row raging between Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and his predecessor, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, could kill off the Singapore Exchange's (SGX's) much-delayed link-up with Bursa Malaysia.

Rumours have been swirling in the market that the project - already hit by technical glitches - will be a victim of the increasingly bitter political feud.

Dealers said the row could make cooperation between the two bourses more difficult, given that Mahathir's supporters had recently criticised the opening of Malaysia's door to investments from Singapore.

Their attacks were sparked by Temasek Holdings taking stakes in Telekom Malaysia and Alliance Bank.

Many analysts now fear that the investment climate may be becoming less friendly.

Their concerns arose on Monday (August 28) when Singapore-listed Parkway Holdings agreed to cede control of its stake in Pantai Holdings, Malaysia's biggest health-care provider, in a deal with Malaysian investment firm, Khazanah Nasional.

"I haven't been able to see any progress since the exchanges start talking about the link two years ago," said a broking house's operational manager.

"The added political dimension to the problem will just cause further delays on top of Bursa's problems over its new trading platform."

But an SGX spokesman said yesterday that the project is still viable: "The two exchanges are committed to . . . linking the markets."

The link-up offers "strong value proposition", making it easier for investors on both sides of the Causeway to trade on each other's bourses.

But SGX could not give a new target date. Eight months ago, it had to push back the estimated start date due to Bursa's technical glitches with its computer trading system.

This was the second time the project was delayed. An earlier pushback occurred last year to allow the two exchanges to implement their respective new trading systems.

"In due course, when the technical issues on the trading link are resolved, we hope to announce a new target date," the SGX spokesman said.

But some brokers see no need for the proposed link and think both bourses should use the uncertainties and delays as an excuse to cancel it.

"The fierce competition among brokerages to provide trading of Malaysian shares to their clients will make the link obsolete," one remisier said.

And others feel the initial aim of the link-up has receded.

"At this point in time, the link would be more advantageous to Singapore than to Malaysia. Presumably, there will be more Malaysians wanting to buy Singapore shares, not the other way around," said a stockbroking director. SGX, which now has over 100 China listings, is considerably more vibrant than Bursa.

This is in contrast to the original intention in 2004, which was to foster more buying of Malaysian shares by investors in Singapore.

Trading in Malaysian shares had been hugely popular here on Clob International, an over-the-counter market, but it was closed in 1998 when Malaysia imposed capital controls.

And competition, rather than cooperation, may now be the main driving force, given Bursa's refusal to license its crude palm oil prices to SGX's joint venture, Joint Asian Derivatives Exchange.

But SGX chief executive Hsieh Fu Hua said last year that the proposed linkage would be 'a long-term measure to facilitate cross-border engagement without the exchanges actually owning each other'.

He disclosed in the same interview that he met his Bursa counterpart, Yusli Mohamed Yusoff, once a month.

The omens may not be good for the link-up, once it does get going.

One dealer noted the SGX's recent decision to sever its common trading platform with the Australian Stock Exchange - a relationship that had been seen as the model for the SGX-Bursa link - due to a lack of trading interest. (Asia News Net)


Isu Pantai Holdings: PM harus perjelas kesilapan kerajaan
(Harakah Daily)

Naib Presiden PAS, Dato' Husam Musa mahu Perdana Menteri dan Menteri Kewangan, Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi dipertanggungjawabkan dan memberi penjelasan di atas kesilapan kerajaan menjual saham Pantai Holdings kepada syarikat milik Singapura sebelum ini.

Sehubungan dengan itu Husam mendakwa, langkah pembelian semula saham tersebut, hanya sebagai satu langkah kosmetik kerajaan BN untuk menyelamatkan maruah mereka daripada tercemar.

Adalah amat malang katanya, apabila kerajaan cuba memberikan gambaran positif terhadap pembelian semula saham Pantai Holdings, sedangkan ianya adalah suatu kesilapan.

Menurut beliau, syarikat pelaburan Parkway mendapat keuntungan berlipat ganda apabila mendapat bayaran sebanyak RM357 juta atas kadar RM2.65 sesaham bagi 134.7 juta saham dan diberikan peluang untuk memiliki semula saham sebanyak 49% dalam syarikat Pantai Irama Ventures yang memiliki saham dalam Pantai serta diberikan hak pengurusan Pantai selama 15 tahun.

"Ini bermakna, Parkway menguasai pengurusan Pantai dan pada masa yang sama terus memiliki saham Pantai.

"Transaksi ini nampaknya sekali lagi menguntungkan Parkway," kata Husam.

Bagaimanapun, akhbar hari ini melaporkan Menteri Kewangan Kedua Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop berkata, urus niaga antara Khazanah dan Parkway semata-mata berasaskan pasaran, dan tidak ada langsung unsur menyelamat.

Pantai Holdings yang pernah dikuasai oleh Dato' Mokhzani Mahathir mengendalikan tujuh hospital swasta dan memegang konsesi bagi penyeliaan pemeriksaan kesihatan pekerja asing dan menyediakan perkhidmatan sokongan kepada hospital kerajaan mencatatkan keuntungan sebelum cukai RM57.39 juta dalam tahun kewangan berakhir 30 Jun lalu diraih daripada pendapatan RM833.4 juta.

Isu ini menjadi hangat apabila anak bekas PM tersebut menjual sahamnya kepada Ketua Eksekutif Pantai Group, Dato' Lim Tong Yong dan Dato' Lim menjual pula saham tersebut kepada Parkway Holdings Ltd, milik Singapura.

Isu penjualan saham beberapa buah syarikat strategik milik Malaysia kepada Singapura menjadi topik panas apabila bekas PM, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad mengecam Abdullah Badawi dan mendakwa ianya langkah yang merugikan negara.

Pada Abdullah, penjualan saham tersebut dianggap positif kerana ia membuktikan syarikat asing yakin dengan prestasi syarikat Malaysia dan membawa pelaburan dalam negara.

Namun Mahathir tetap mempersoalkan mengapa hanya Singapura yang membeli saham-saham tersebut dan mendakwa ianya ada kaitan dengan campur tangan menantu Abdullah, Khairy Jamaludin.

Bagi sesetengah penganalisis politik, langkah kerajaan mengizinkan syarikat Singapura menguasai saham-saham strategik adalah suatu bentuk penjajahan ekonomi yang merugikan negara untuk jangka panjang.

Pada Husam, pengumuman pembelian semula saham syarikat tersebut oleh Khazanah daripada Parkway menunjukkan kerajaan mengakui kesilapan Menteri Kewangan meluluskan penjualan saham majoriti sebanyak 31 peratus kepada syarikat asing tersebut September tahun lalu.

"Jika tidak, apa perlunya pembelian semula dilakukan. Kesilapan ini berbangkit kerana antara lain, dua anak syarikat Pantai terlibat dengan program pengswastaan dan dibawah peraturan sedia ada , tidak ada syarikat yang mendapat konsensi pengswastaan dibenarkan terlepas kepada pihak asing," soal Naib Presiden PAS itu.

Berikut disiarkan kenyataan penuh beliau:.....(read more)

29 August, 2006

The New Malay Dilemma

The New Malay Dilemma

By Mahathir Mohamad

The Malays are among the few people whose race is legally defined. Thus, the Malaysian Constitution states that a Malay is one who habitually speaks Malay, professes the religion of Islam and practises Malay customs.

There is nothing said about the definitive culture of the Malays. It follows that changes in culture do not make a Malay person a non-Malay.

Culture is made up largely of the value systems accepted, even if not actually practiced by a people or a race. Observations have shown that the culture of a people determines whether they are successful or they fail...

Europeans, Asians, Africans and American Indians can all be successful and can all fail. It is, therefore, not the race or ethnicity which determines success. It is the culture.When I wrote The Malay Dilemma in the late 60s, I had assumed that all the Malays lacked the opportunities to develop and become successful.

They lacked opportunities for educating themselves, opportunities to earn enough to go into business, opportunities to train in the required vocation, opportunities to obtain the necessary funding, licences and premises.

If these opportunities could be made available to them, then they would succeed...

.... But today, the attitude has changed. Getting scholarships and places in the universities at home and abroad is considered a matter of right and is not valued any more.

Indeed, those who get these educational opportunities for some unknown reason seem to dislike the very people who created these opportunities.

Worse still, they don't seem to appreciate the opportunities that they get.

They become more interested in other things, politics in particular, to the detriment of their studies.

In business, the vast majority regarded the opportunities given them as something to be exploited for the quickest return...

They learn nothing about business and become even less capable at doing business and earning an income from their activities.

They become mere sleeping partners and at times not even that. Having sold, they no longer have anything to do with the business. They would go to the government for more licences, permits, shares, etc...

.... Why has this thing happened? The answer lies in the culture of the Malays. They are laid-back and prone to take the easy way out. And the easy way out is to sell off whatever they get and ask for more. This is their culture.

Working hard, taking risks and being patient is not a part of their culture. It should be remembered that in the past the Malays were not prepared to take up the jobs created by the colonial powers in their effort to exploit the country.

Because the Malays were not prepared to work in rubber estates and the mines, the Indians and Chinese were brought in. At one time, the migrants outnumbered the Malays.

Had they continued to outnumber the Malays, independent Malaya would be like independent Singapore.

But the Malays have apparently learnt nothing from the near loss of their country in the past.

Today, they are still unwilling to work and foreign workers are again flooding the country. And because they are not equipping themselves with the necessary education and skills, they have continued to depend on others.

Their political dominance will protect them for a time. But that dominance is fading very fast as they quarrel among themselves and break up into small ineffective groups. Their numerical superiority means less today than at the time of Independence...

... The Malays, together with the other Bumiputeras, make up 60 per cent of the country's population. But in terms of their political clout, it is now much less than 60 per cent.

They are now more dependent on non-Malay support, both the government party and the opposition.

Economically, of course, they have less than half the 30-per-cent share that has been allocated to them. If we discount the non-Malay contribution to the nation's economy, Malaysia would be not much better than some of the African developing countries.

To succeed, the Malays must change their culture. They must look towards work as a reward in itself. They must regard what they achieve through work as the true reward.

There should be some financial reward but this must not outweigh the satisfaction obtained from the result of their work...

... Changing culture is far more difficult than changing the policies of government. It is easy enough to propose affirmative action but it is not easy to implement it.

The recipients must have the right attitude if the results are going to be obtained...

.. Unfortunately, their view is that their crutches are symbols of their superior status in the country. The sad thing is that they are not even using the crutches properly. As a result, they gain nothing or very little from the availability of these aids...

... So what is the new Malay dilemma? Their old dilemma was whether they should distort the picture a little in order to help themselves.

The new dilemma is whether they should or should not do away with the crutches that they have got used to, which in fact they have become proud of.

There is a minority of Malays who are confident enough to think of doing away with the crutches, albeit gradually. But they are a very small minority.

Their numbers are not going to increase any time soon. They are generally regarded as traitors to the Malay race...

... There will be a host of protests over this generalisation about Malay attitudes. We read almost every day about blind Malay people and other handicapped Malays graduating with university degrees or driving cars or doing all kinds of work.

This does not prove that the generalisation that I make is wrong. These are exceptions. They only prove that if the right attitude or culture is adopted, even the handicapped can succeed.

The dilemma faced by those few who want to build a strong, resilient and independent Malay race without crutches is that they are most likely to end up becoming unpopular and losing the ability to influence the changes in the culture and the value system which are necessary.

It seems that they should not try and yet they know that without the cultural changes, the Malays are going to fail.


Shahrir: Let Dr M speak at assembly

KUALA LUMPUR: NO ONE should prejudge what Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will touch on if he is allowed to speak at the party general assembly in November, says Umno supreme council member Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad.

“Let him proceed with his intentions. Whether people say that he is demeaning himself when he gives his speech as a delegate is a matter of personal judgement,” he told reporters at the Parliament House yesterday.

However, in Jitra, 32 Umno branches in the Kubang Pasu division urged the former Prime Minister to reconsider his decision.

The branches in the Temin/ Laka Zone decided on this at a special meeting in Changlun on Sunday.

Temin Zone Umno secretary Mohd Yusof Jamaludin said Dr Mahathir should not contest the post of divisional delegate.

“We do not want him to contest just for the sake of wanting to speak at the assembly,” he told a press conference yesterday. (Star)

Don't bother to contest, Dr M told

"We respect you as a leader but we disagree with your decision to be a delegate at the party’s general assembly."

That was the sentiment of 32 Umno branches in the Kubang Pasu division over Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s intention to represent the division at the general assembly in November.

Mohd Yusof Jamaludin, a spokesman for the 32 branches, said Dr Mahathir should withdraw from contesting a delegate’s post to protect his dignity as former prime minister, Umno president and chairman of the division.

"Even if he contests, we cannot promise he would be chosen," he said.

The contest to select seven delegates will be held on Sept 9.

He suggested Dr Mahathir find another channel to raise his concerns about the party and Government.

"We regret Tun Dr Mahathir’s decision to contest since it would mean bringing himself down to a delegate’s level," Yusof, who is also Kampung Belukar/Bendang Ceruk Umno branch chairman, said.

The 32 branches are considered the most influential among the 146 in the Kubang Pasu Umno division.

Its members included division chairman Datuk Johari Baharum, his deputy Ahmad Zaini Japar, vice-chairman Aman Khan Md Hussein and secretary Samsuddin Ahmad.

Yusof also said the group fully supported Prime Minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and recognised Dr Mahathir’s contributions to the division.

Dr M advised to consider implications of attending the Umno GA as a delegate

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been advised to consider the possible implications if he were to attend the Umno general assembly as a delegate.

Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said not only the Malays, but the other races in the country as well as foreigners would be monitoring events at the assembly.

Umno represents the Malays and I am worried that what happens in the assembly will reflect on the Malays� situation, he said after launching the National Language and Literature Month 2006 today.

Hishammuddin, who is also the Education Minister, said the party does not prevent nor determine who can or can not attend the assembly.

It is up to the Umno branches in Kubang Pasu to decide whether they want Dr Mahathir to represent them,� he said.

It was reported that 32 Umno branches in the Kubang Pasu division had urged Dr Mahathir not to accept nomination as one of the division's seven delegates to the general assembly in November.

This is to protect his dignity as former prime minister, said Mohd Yusof Jamaludin, a spokesman for the 32 branches.(NST)


Sampai bila "sindrom tak tahu" PM akan berakhir?

Perdana Menteri, Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi bukan sahaja terkenal dengan sikap suka membisu ketika pelbagai persoalan dibangkitkan mengenai gelagat kepemimpinannya dan kerajaan, malah beliau juga terkenal sebagai seorang Perdana Menteri yang suka menampilkan diri dalam keadaan serba tidak tahu.

Pengakuan bahawa tidak tahu beliau yang paling terkenal ialah mengenai penggabungan ECM Libra dengan Capital Avenue dahulu di mana menantunya Khairy Jamaluddin menguasai kira RM9.2 juta saham dalam ECM Libra pada masa itu.

Malah, penggabungan itu berlaku sebaik sahaja Khairy mempunyai saham dalam ECM Libra.

Ular lidi telan naga

ECM Libra disifatkan menelan Capital Avenue dan penggabungan itu dikritik oleh banyak pihak termasuk mereka yang menyifatkannya sebagai ular lidi (ECM Libra) menelan naga (Capital Avenue).

Ketika Abdullah ditanya mengenai penggabungan itu, akhbar menyiarkan pengakuan paling popularnya, "Saya tidak terlibat dalam apa jua cara pun, saya tidak tahu."

Terbaru, Abdullah juga dilaporkan mengaku beliau tidak tahu apabila ditanya mengenai kenyataan Khairy yang mencetuskan kemarahan kaum Cina dan dikritik lantang dalam perhimpunan agung Pemuda MCA ke-43 Sabtu lalu.

Khairy semasa merasmikan persidangan perwakilan Pemuda Umno Bahagian Jerlun, Kedah baru-baru ini mendakwa kaum Cina akan mengambil kesempatan daripada kelemahan Umno.

Abdullah berkata, beliau tidak tahu apa sebenarnya yang dikatakan oleh Khairy.

Mohon maaf

Ketika ditanya adakah Khairy perlu memohon maaf kepada kaum Cina, Abdullah memilih untuk membisu juga dengan menyatakan beliau belum dapat menyatakan perkara itu.

Ketua Pemuda MCA, Dato' Liow Tiong Lai menyifatkan kenyataan Khairy yang tidak diketahui apa sebenarnya oleh Perdana Menteri itu sebagai berbahaya.

"Ada orang mendakwa yang saham syarikat tidak boleh jual kepada bukan bumiputera ... ada juga yang mendakwa jika Umno lemah, kaum Cina akan mengambil kesempatan untuk membuat pelbagai tuntutan.

"Saya mahu mengingatkan mereka bahawa tindakan mereka itu adalah sentimen perkauman yang merbahaya. Jangan cuba menjadi jaguh dengan memainkan isu sensitif," katanya walaupun tanpa menyebut nama Khairy.

"Orang-orang ini hanya mementingkan keuntungan politik sahaja," Malaysiakini memetik ucapan beliau dalam bahasa Mandarin itu.

Kerugian besar

Wakil Negeri Sembilan, Lee Liu Hoay pula secara sinis melahirkan simpatinya pada kerugian besar yang ditanggung Khairy kerana terpaksa menjual saham ECM-Libra.

"Padan muka anda, anda memang patut rugi," katanya.

Lee juga membidas Naib Ketua Pemuda MCA, Ling Hee Leong kerana "berbaik-baik" dengan Khairy bagi menutup segera kontroversi yang dicetuskan oleh menantu Perdana Menteri itu.

"Dia (Ling) bertemu dengan Khairy baru-baru ini, saya harap Ling tidak menawarkan pinjaman wang kepada Khairy. Jika dia buat begitu, dia tidak akan menang apa-apa jawatan dalam MCA selepas ini," tambahnya.

Tidak diketahui mengapakah Pemuda MCA yang membahaskan kenyatan Khairy dengan begitu berapi-api lebih tahu dan mempunyai maklumat yang lebih baik mengenai kenyatan itu berbanding Perdana Menteri yang menagku tidak tahu.

Amat menghairankan kerana beliau sepatutnya mempunyai maklumat yang kemaskini mengenai perkembangan penting di dalam negara lebih-lebih lagi dalam parti pimpinannya...(read more)


Khairy Phenomenon: A Danger Signal

In 2004, Khairy Jamaluddin's name exploded into Malaysian political circles (especially UMNO) like a brilliant firework going of against a pitch-black night sky. Onlookers looked at him with murmurs of awe and admiration.

In that year, this newcomer caused political old-timers to sigh in envy and set the younger politicians who were waiting on tenterhooks for their turn in the limelight.

As the Prime Minister's son-in-law, a distinguished Oxford graduate and a powerhouse in the Prime Minister's department, Khairy swept into the Mahathir-era UMNO ranks like a whirlwind. He entered our multi-ethnic political stage as dark horse.

Young, brilliant and well-heeled, the image Khairy projected caused the media to willingly label him as "open minded" and "a breath of fresh air." The international media proclaimed him "the most powerful 28 year old in Malaysia."

Khairy came to represent the ideal of the new Malaysian politician.

UMNO members held high hopes for him. The Chinese community, heartened by his statements during UMNO youth elections about establishing closer ties with Chinese organizations and the Chinese media, naively put their faith in this young man who with a Western education.

Not two years have passed, and their faith has been broken by his ethnically divisive statement that "if UMNO is divided, the Chinese would use the opportunity to make more demands.”"

Many would clearly understand that this is politics, and that Khairy is only telling voters what they want to hear when he promises stronger ethnic ties to the Chinese and continued emphasis on bumiptera rights to the Malays. The use of ethnic issues to win votes, and the subsequent abandonment of the Chinese media once they have played their part, are old tricks that have been passed down from various UMNO politicians.

These tricks have been used by aspiring UMNO leaders in the past. They were a necessary tactic to allow some UMNO members to ascend to power.

The previous generation of leaders used tricks and threats to secure the cooperation of other ethnic groups, while the current generation simply follows the prescribed pattern. Should we expect that future leaders would deviate from a tried and proven method?

Although Khairy's use of this method was crude, the effects of his actions on UMNO's culture cannot be underestimated.

What kind of man is he? Young, ambitious, and with a combination of excellent traits, he is a rising star in Malay society. Many Malay youths support, admire and try to be like him.

If Khairy's actions are allowed to become a common phenomenon in UMNO and Malaysian politics, it would serve as a danger signal to the country.

If a person who received a tertiary education in the West can grind the principles of equality, democracy, freedom and human rights under his feet while making unreasonable and wild accusations about an ethnic group that has lived with his own for almost half a century, then wouldn't those close minded, ethnocentric conservatives in our country be encouraged to go one step further?

If Khairy, who is the PM's son-in-law, can so brazenly provoke ethnic tensions, wouldn't those opportunists in UMNO out to make a name for themselves be encouraged to do the same?

Isn't Penang UMNO Youth Leader Mohammad Salim's accusation that the Penang government was "actively working to marginalise the Malays and drive them off the island" a prime example of this?

In the face the challenges brought on by globalisation, political parties all over the world are trying to keep up with the changing times. They are hoping that the new generation will bring reform, improvements and enlightenment to the party's political ideas.

Sadly, a brilliant Oxford graduate who represents the new generation of UMNO leaders has chosen to cling to the old ways of ethnocentrism. How can someone whose political ideology runs along these lines lead the next generation of UMNO in the face of the challenges of globalisation?
(Asia News Net)

28 August, 2006

Umno is treating me like a pariah, says Dr M

Umno is treating me like a pariah, says Dr M

ALOR STAR: From being a former prime minister and Umno president to a pariah, this is how Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad described his situation nowadays.

Dr Mahathir, who once ruled the party and the nation for 22 years, said he was insulted that the party was now trying to gag him.

And he was upset at what he deemed a new party culture whereby those who wished to speak up were censored and heaped with insults.

"This seems to be the new party culture. They prevent members from speaking up and only those who support them get to speak.

"I am the former party president yet they don’t want me to talk to the members. I can’t even meet them. Universities are barred from inviting me and newspapers are prevented from reporting about me.

"I am becoming a pariah in the party," he said at the Sultan Abdul Halim airport here.

When asked about Kubang Pasu Umno Youth, which passed a resolution calling for his biggest critic — Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Aziz to be sacked from the party and Cabinet — Dr Mahathir said he did not care either way what happened to Nazri.

Dr Mahathir who recently announced his plans to become a delegate at the party’s general assembly in November, said he would raise a number of issues if given a chance to speak at the event.

However, he said there were plans to stifle him. "I know they will cut me out. Even if I am selected as a delegate, I may not get a chance to speak as the Menteri Besar (Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid) may not choose me."(NST)

The word pariah, which can be used for anyone who is a social outcast, independent of social position, recalls a much more rigid social system, which made only certain people pariahs. The caste system of India placed pariahs, also known as Untouchables, very low in society. The word pariah, which we have extended in meaning, came into English from Tamil paaiyar, the plural of paaiyan, the caste name, which literally means "(hereditary) drummer" and comes from the word paai, the name of a drum used at certain festivals. The word is first recorded in English in 1613. Its use in English and its extension in meaning probably owe much to the long period of British rule in India.

An article appeared in the Harakah Daily: "Pemimpin Umno bawa budaya kurang ajar, jadikan saya pariah, panggil saya iblis"

ALOR STAR, 28 Ogos (Hrkh) - Bekas Perdana Menteri, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad menyifatkan pemimpin-pemimpin Umno membawa budaya kurang ajar, menjadikan beliau pariah dalam parti itu serta memanggil beliau beruk dan iblis.

Ketika mengulas usul yang diluluskan Pemuda Umno Bahagian Kubang Pasu supaya Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri Dato' Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz dipecat daripada Umno kerana lantang mengkritik beliau, Dr. Mahathir berkata: "Cara Nazri mengkritik saya bukan budaya Umno, itu budaya kurang ajar. Ada yang panggil saya beruk, ada panggil iblis, ini budaya Umno yang baru."

Bagaimanapun, beliau tidak peduli sama ada Umno akan memecat Nazri atau tidak.

Dr Mahathir juga menyifatkan perbuatan sesetengah pihak yang cuba menyekat beliau bertanding sebagai perwakilan Umno bahagian Kubang Pasu ke perhimpunan agung parti itu sebagai penghinaan terhadapnya.

Bertanding perwakilan bahagian

Beliau menyifatkan tindakan menghalangnya itu lebih pelik daripada hasratnya, sebagai bekas Presiden Umno, mahu bertanding menjadi perwakilan bahagian itu pada 9 September ini.

"Yang itu (sekatan) lebih pelik, lebih menghina saya bahkan jadikan saya pariah dalam Umno. Saya bekas Presiden jadi pariah dalam Umno," katanya semasa ditemui pemberita di Lapangan Terbang Sultan Abdul Halim, Kepala Batas, di sini.

Beliau yang tiba dari Perak bagi lawatan peribadi di Kedah, mengulas kenyataan beberapa pemimpin Umno mengenai pertandingan beliau di Umno Bahagian Kubang Pasu, dengan ada di antaranya menyifatkan hasrat beliau itu sebagai pelik.

Tidak ada mana-mana bekas Presiden Umno mengambil bahagian sebagai perwakilan dalam perhimpunan agung parti itu.

Menurut Dr Mahathir, walaupun menang pada pemilihan untuk menjadi perwakilan Kubang Pasu itu sekalipun, beliau melihat masih ada halangan untuk bercakap pada perhimpunan agung Umno November nanti.

Beliau menjangkakan, Menteri Besar Kedah, Dato' Seri Mahdzir Khalid, selaku Pengerusi Badan Perhubungan Umno Negeri sudah tentu tidak memilihnya mewakili Kedah berucap pada perhimpunan agung nanti.

Menteri Besar Kedah penyokong kuat Abdullah

Mahdzir, yang pernah menjadi Setiausaha Politik Perdana Menteri, Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi terkenal sebagai penyokong kuat Abdullah dan antara pemimpin Umno yang dikatakan pernah mencadangkan tindakan yang maksimum diambil ke atas Dr Mahathir.

"Sekalipun saya dipilih oleh Badan Perhubungan Umno Kedah untuk berucap pada Perhimpunan Agung Umno, tentu saya diberi masa yang pendek, mungkin sekadar lima minit. Dengan masa banyak itu, tidak boleh berkata apalah," katanya.

Wakil setiap negeri yang akan berucap membahaskan usul pada Perhimpunan Agung Umno ditentukan Badan Perhubungan Umno Negeri.

Dr Mahathir enggan memberitahu isu-isu yang akan beliau bangkitkan sekiranya terpilih menjadi perwakilan dan dibenarkan berucap.

Dalam perkembangan berkaitan, Malaysiakini melaporkan, Nazri menyifatkan tindakan Pemuda Umno Bahagian Kubang Pasu, Kedah meluluskan usul meminta beliau dipecat dari parti itu dan jawatannya dalam kabinet sebagai sesuatu yang 'bodoh' dan 'keliru'.

Usul minta Mahathir henti kritik

Beliau yang juga anggota Majlis Tertinggi Umno berkata Pemuda Umno bahagian tersebut sepatutnya meluluskan usul meminta Dr Mahathir menghentikan tindakan mengkritik kerajaan dan Perdana Menteri.

Bercakap kepada pemberita selepas merasmikan Mesyuarat Perwakilan Pemuda dan Puteri Umno Bahagian Gelang Patah, Nazri berkata, perlembagaan Umno tidak menyatakan bersikap kurang ajar terhadap bekas pemimpin merupakan suatu kesalahan yang boleh dibuang parti.

Persidangan perwakilan Pemuda Umno Kubang Pasu telah meluluskan usul memecat beliau daripada mengganggotai Umno dan jawatan kabinetnya berikutan kenyataannya yang disifatkan biadap terhadap Dr Mahathir.

Menurut Nazri, pada mulanya beliau tidak mahu bercakap kepada media tentang isu kritikan Dr Mahathir terhadap Abdullah dan kerajaan sebagaimana yang diarahkan oleh Kebinet tetapi kini terpaksa mengubah pendirian kerana tindakan Pemuda Umno Bahagian Kubang Pasu itu.

Katanya, beliau diberitahu bahawa apa yang sebenarnya berlaku adalah pemuda Umno bahagian Kubang Pasu tidak meluluskan usul memintanya dipecat tetapi sebaliknya beberapa wakil pemuda bahagian meminta beliau dipecat semasa ucapan penangguhan mesyuarat itu.

Nazri berkata beliau akan mendapatkan pengesahan lanjut daripada Ketua Umno Bahagian Kubang Pasu, Dato' Johari Baharum mengenai usul pecat itu.

Nilai diri sendiri

Terdahulu dalam ucapannya, Nazri menasihatkan Pemuda Umno Kubang Pasu agar menilai diri mereka sendiri sebelum bertindak mencadangkan beliau dipecat daripada parti itu.

Beliau juga berkata, walaupun digelar sebagai kurang ajar kerana kelantangannya mengkritik Dr Mahathir tetapi menegaskan akan meneruskan apa yang dibuatnya kerana tidak melihat sebarang kesalahan di dalam mempertahankan Abdullah dan kerajaan.

Tindakan Nazri itu juga direstui oleh pemimpin Umno yang menyifatkannya tidak salah kerana beliau mempertahankan Perdana Menteri mengikut 'cara sendiri'.

Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Dato' Seri Najib Tun Razak berkata, Nazri tidak akan dikenakan sebarang tindakan kerana Umno tidak semestinya mengambil tindakan disiplin kepada anggotanya hanya berdasarkan usul yang dikemukakan pada mesyuarat perwakilan.

"Nazri bertindak setelah beliau merasakan perlu berbuat demikian kerana 'terasa' dengan kritikan yang agak tajam. Pada pendapat saya, tidak ada keperluan untuk diambil apa-apa tindakan terhadap Nazri," katanya kepada media selepas merasmikan mesyuarat Perwakilan Umno Bahagian Kelana Jaya.

Sementara itu di Kuala Selangor, Ketua Pemuda Umno, Dato' Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein berkata usul itu tidak mencerminkan kedudukan sebenar Pemuda Umno yang kini kuat dan maju.

Beliau yang juga Menteri Pelajaran berkata demikian kepada pemberita selepas merasmikan Mesyuarat Perwakilan Bahagian Umno Kuala Selangor hari ini. - lanh

Thr Star : Mahathir: I’m being stopped from meeting old friends

ALOR STAR: Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he was stopped by certain quarters from meeting Umno members including his old friends in the party.

The former Umno president claimed that he also could not meet academics who wanted to interview him while the newspapers were not allowed to write what he said.

“I am a former Umno president but have become a pariah in Umno,” he told newsmen here yesterday when asked on questions raised over his decision to contest the post of division delegate to the party general assembly in November.

He said that some Umno supreme council members said his decision was inappropriate for a former party president.

Asked what issues he would raise during the assembly, Dr Mahathir said he would find interesting issues to speak on.

“Even if I was chosen as a delegate, I might not be allowed to talk. If I get the chance maybe for five minutes, which is too short for me to say anything.”

Umno election committee member Tan Sri Khalid Abdullah asked why so many Umno leaders were feeling threatened by Dr Mahathir.

“Tun is resorting to the only avenue, the general assembly, to address party members. He has been denied the opportunity to meet up with Umno members or speak to them in the past few months,” he said.Dr Mahathir and his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali are here for the wedding of his grandnephew Mohamad Nahiz Rahmat.


UMNO Youth playing racial issue - Hishammuddin blasts MCA Youth, Khairy Jamaluddin 'It never crossed my mind to apologise'

Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein issued this warning as he lambasted the MCA Youth for calling on his deputy Khairy Jamaluddin to apologise for his remarks that Barisan Nasional component parties would take advantage of a weak Umno.

"We will join ranks and meet any challenge head-on for the sake of the party and Umno Youth."

Hishammuddin said he was angry that MCA Youth was still harping on the issue despite the existence of channels where such issues could be raised and discussed.

"Khairy had said he was misunderstood and that the matter would be raised at the BN Youth meeting. What more does MCA Youth want?"

Speaking at the Umno Kuala Selangor delegates' meeting yesterday, he said the issue of an apology should not be raised as it would inflame the grassroots.

He said an apology was also not necessary as Khairy was misunderstood.

"But if the misunderstanding had caused some confusion, then there is nothing wrong to apologise for the confusion."

He said he had received many text messages from Umno Youth members expressing their anger over the demand for Khairy to apologise.

He said BN Youth leaders should not get emotional, including questioning the issues of Malay rights raised at Umno meetings.

Hishammuddin, who is BN Youth chief, said he would call for a meeting of BN Youth to settle the row.

Mean time. Deputy Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin yesterday said he would not apologise for his remarks on Umno and Barisan Nasional, which offended certain parties.

He said the statement was made to unite and strengthen Umno and BN component parties.

"It has never crossed my mind to apologise to those who are hurt by what I said in Kedah last week. For me, if we truly fight for our race, one should not apologise.

"I have no intention of offending any BN component party. We are always sensitive to other people’s feelings but we have a role to protect the dignity of the Malays," he said at the Selayang Umno Youth delegates’ meeting here yesterday.

Khairy said this in response to calls from several MCA Youth and Wanita delegates asking him to apologise for his alleged remarks that the Chinese would capitalise on a weak Umno.

Later, Khairy reiterated his statement was to remind the Malays to safeguard Umno so that it would remain strong.

He said if Umno were weak, certain quarters would capitalise on this and it would weaken BN, too.

"I want to see a strong Umno and a strong BN but it has been misunderstood and taken out of context. It has led to an unhealthy polemic, thus I decline to comment further."

Khairy said he had explained the issue to MCA deputy Youth chief Ling Hee Leong.

The star Monday August 28, 2006 reported 'Khairy thanks MCA for its strong support'

Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin expressed gratitude to MCA for supporting Umno and wishing to see a strong and united party.

“I want to thank MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting because he said MCA stood firm behind Umno,” he told reporters after opening the Selayang Umno Youth delegates meeting yesterday.

When asked about his remark that Barisan Nasional component parties would take advantage of a weak Umno, Khairy said his statement had been misunderstood.

“My message was that if Umno was not strong, there might be certain parties who might take advantage of it. This had been shown in history.

“The statement had been misunderstood and twisted based on some parties' interests,” he said.

When asked if he would apologise, he said it did not occur to him to apologise to whichever party because what he had done was right for his party.

Malaysia's ethnic Chinese party pledged its support for the dominant UMNO Sunday after the ruling coalition was rocked by a row triggered by the prime minister's controversial son-in-law.

Khairy Jamaluddin, 30, a businessman and ambitious emerging politician, has already been forced to deny that he is the power behind the throne in the face of concerns about his influence over Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

In the latest upset, Khairy caused uproar in the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) by saying that if the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) became weak other parties could seize the opportunity to make demands.

Meantime, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said yesterday.'Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin should explain to the Chinese community his reported remarks that the community would take advantage of Umno's internal problems to make demands' Sun2surf : Khairy should explain remarks.

"It is a thing that Khairy himself needs to respond to and explain," he told reporters after officiating at the 1st Putrajaya National Watercolour Competition 2006 at the National Art Gallery....(more)

27 August, 2006

Make love, not work

Singapore: Make love, not work

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has warned Singaporeans that they will either have to produce more babies or welcome more migrants if the country is going to sustain economic growth and living standards.

Lee, during his recent National Day speech, estimated that at current birth rates Singapore will need an additional 14,000 babies each year to ensure that the population is large enough to sustain the economy.

A slew of policies introduced two years ago to boost birth rates, such as longer maternity leave and infant-care subsidies, have so far had no visible effects, with the affluent city-state's fertility rate last year recording an all-time low of 1.24 per female.

The alternative, according to Lee, is for Singapore to open its doors to permanent immigrants. Last year's General Household Survey shows that new permanent residents have risen by 8.7% to 30,000 per year between 2000 and 2005. During the same period, the number of citizen births rose by a mere 0.9%, or an average of 28,000 births per year.

"If we want our economy to grow, if we want to be strong internationally, then we need a growing population," argued Lee.

A growing number of Asian professionals, especially from mainland China, India, the Philippines, Malaysia and Hong Kong, have recently uprooted themselves from their home countries to take up employment in Singapore. Yet while many immigrants have taken up permanent-residency status, few go on to become Singaporean citizens.

Kwan Chee Wei, a regional human-resource consultant for a multinational company, argues that many professionals go to Singapore hoping to advance their careers or for the upscale lifestyle, but are not interested in changing their citizenship.

That said, an increasing number of Indian and Chinese nationals have recently taken up Singaporean citizenship, creating a measure of resentment among the local ethnic Chinese and Indian populations, who see the new immigrants as competition for jobs.

Lee has tried to defuse those tensions, contending that many Asian migrants have actually created jobs for other Singaporeans through their entrepreneurship. "If you get the right foreigner here, he creates thousands of jobs for Singaporeans," he said.

He also noted that developed countries, including the United States, Canada and Australia, frequently headhunt and hire Singaporean talent, often offering scholarships and high-paying jobs to lure them away from Singapore.

"Countries know, people know Singapore. They no longer think Singapore is somewhere in China. But they don't know Singapore is out there looking for talent," said Lee. "We have to promote our immigration program overseas."

Since Lee's speech, letters to the editorial pages of newspapers in Singapore have been flooded with comments - or more precisely xenophobic complaints - about the apparent new policy toward immigrants. One letter writer, Lim Boon Hee, said, "Be open to foreign talent, but do not forsake our own. One more clever foreign talent means one place less for our local-born sons in institutions of higher learning."

Another writer, Jimmy Ho Kwok, suspects that employers will welcome foreign degree-holders from such countries as India and China so they can pay them less than the threshold salaries offered to local graduates and diploma-holders.

Unionist G Muthukumar points to information-technology professionals from India and sales assistants from the Philippines and Myanmar as examples of employers paying foreigners less than they would pay local hires. On the other hand, Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen referred to how foreign technicians helped to set up Singapore's aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul industry quickly - while it took Singapore six years just to set up the training courses to develop local technicians for the industry.

The debate has since turned focus to the politically volatile issue of the rising cost of living and its impact on raising a family. "Welcoming migrants to our shores is not the solution to our declining birth rates," argued Zeena Amir, a single sales executive in her late 20s. "What would be more beneficial to Singaporeans and also make more sense in the long term is to work on controlling the increasing cost of living."

Singapore has arguably become a victim of its own success. Over the past two decades, the island nation has produced a large number of highly educated young women, many of whom now have high-powered jobs and find child-rearing not only an economic burden but a liability to their career development.

"Children are no longer an asset but a liability," argued young lawyer Shirley Tan. "Child care and education are so expensive, and I can't afford to stay at home to look after them."

As this ambitious nation of 4 million people tries to build further on its economic successes, the debate on whether Singaporeans should have more babies or more migrants seems set to intensify.
"Some view foreigners as competition to their livelihoods," noted ruling-party parliamentarian Alvin Chan. "We will have to explain to them that this is not really the case." (Asia Times)

OK, let us do it ! A man has to do what a man has to do.


MCA Pledges Support For Umno, Says Does Not Fish In Troubled Waters

The Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) pledged its support for Umno as the primary stabiliser of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition and government, saying it upheld camaraderie and will not fish in troubled waters.

MCA President Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting, in an apparent response to Umno Youth deputy head Khairy Jamaluddin's recent remark that non-Malay political parties would take advantage of Umno if the party was split, said the MCA and the Chinese community upheld the principle of not turning their backs on a friend who was faced with challenges.

"The MCA and the Chinese community realise that Umno, which represents the Malays, is the primary stabiliser of the BN and government. We stand by together and provide support," he said in his policy speech at the MCA annual general assembly, here.

The assembly was opened by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is BN chairman and Umno president. Also present at the opening ceremony was Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and leaders of the other BN component parties.

Ong, who is Housing and Local Government Minister, dismissed allegations that the MCA or the Chinese community would take advantage at a time when a friend was faced with challenges.

"MCA, as the political representative of the Chinese community, would want to see a stable and strong Umno, and we hope that the Umno president as well as BN chairman and prime minister will get the undivided support of all component parties as well as their members," he said.

Ong said the MCA gave its undivided support to Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as the prime minister and BN chairman to enable him lead an effective government and bring rapid progress to the country.

The MCA president said the history of the relationship between Umno and MCA showed that the MCA had never taken advantage of or troubled Umno when the party was faced with challenges from within or without.

"When Umno was outlawed in 1988, MCA ensured that Umno was brought back to the BN and resumed leadership of the coalition.

"When Umno was up against the reformation campaign of (former deputy prime minister) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim during the series of demonstrations when the country was still grappling with the effects of the economic crisis between September 1998 and 1999, the MCA continued with its support for the Umno leadership," he said.

Turning to other matters, Ong requested the government to provide more financing to assist in the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

He said many Chinese entrepreneurs had been in business for generations but now faced difficulty in obtaining loans, either from the SME Bank or other government funds.

Ong said: "We are only seeking reasonable and just opportunities for the Chinese community to participate in national development. Many Chinese SME entrepreneurs had contributed much to economic growth and require help very much.

"In the past, they were accommodated by small banks such as Ban Hin Lee Bank, Hock Hwa Bank and Kwong Yik Bank because these small banks understood and were sensitive to the potential of their business. Now, these small banks have merged into big banks which have different policies, priorities and outlook.

"The Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Malaysia, and many SME entrepreneurs hope that the government will consider establishing a special boutique bank to offer loans to SMEs as an additional source of financing."



Hisham: Jangan guna media, Khairy

Ketua Pemuda Umno Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein mahu naib ketua pergerakan itu, Khairy Jamaluddin menggunakan saluran parti untuk menjelaskan kontroversi ucapannya di Kedah tanpa berharap sepenuhnya kepada media.

Beliau berkata, Khairy tidak boleh menggunakan media semata-mata untuk menjelaskan maksud sebenar ucapannya kerana ia akan menimbulkan lebih banyak lagi salah faham terutama di kalangan anggota parti komponen Barisan Nasional (BN).

"Khairy kata ada salah faham dengan apa yang dinyatakan olehnya sebelum ini, jadi sekiranya kenyataan itu sukar bagi kita untuk pastikan orang faham, baik kita fahamkan melalui saluran sedia ada. Itulah yang dipersetujui pemimpin tertinggi.

"Kalau nak menjawab melalui media, itu akan menimbulkan banyak lagi salah faham dan melagakan lagi keadaan," katanya kepada pemberita selepas merasmikan mesyuarat perwakilan Pergerakan Pemuda, Wanita dan Puteri Umno Bahagian Pekan di sini, hari ini.

Ucapan Khairy di Kedah minggu lepas mengenai kaum Cina akan diambil kesempatan daripada kelemahan Umno untuk menimbulkan kontroversi sehingga mengakibatkan rasa tidak puas hati di kalangan beberapa pemimpin parti komponen BN.

Hishammuddin berkata, salah faham itu akan mengakibatkan wujudnya pihak yang cuba mengambil kesempatan untuk memecah-belahkan BN.

"Pemuda dah serik dalam hal berbaur perkauman dan agama dan saya selaku pemimpin Pemuda tidak akan membenarkan hal ini terjadi kerana ia risiko yang tinggi kerana kita mempunyai agenda yang lebih besar," katanya. (BERNAMA)


Delegate demands apology from Khairy

MCA Youth wants Umno deputy Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin to apologise for his remark that Barisan component parties would take advantage of a weak Umno.

The MCA Youth delegate from Negri Sembilan, Siow Koi Voon, said Khairy has not only hurt the MCA's feelings but also that of the Chinese community.

As such, he said Khairy must also personally explain to MCA and the community his intention when he made his remark. "We want your apology, Khairy," said Siow in English, to thunderous applause from the floor.

Siow switched from Mandarin to English for that part of his speech to make sure that Khairy would not say he did not understand the message, said a Youth delegate from Selangor later.

He said Khairy, being an Umno leader, should know history better – MCA had stood firmly behind Umno all the while, singling the Umno crisis in the 1980s Earlier MCA Youth chairman Datuk Liow Tiong Lai had opened the floodgates during his speech at the opening of the assembly by raising two recent issues – a statement by an Umno Youth leader saying his sale of shares was to Bumiputras only and the proposed rotation of the Penang Chief Minister's post.

Speaking in an oblique way, Liow said: "There is no market for such heroes in this globalised world."

Saying both issues had racial overtones, Liow however stopped short of naming those who made the two statements and commented that these people should stop fighting with shadows.

He also reminded those who had resorted to petty actions to gain political mileage that "only great leaders will do great things".

"If you want to fight, don't fear. If you fear, don't fight," shouted an emotional Liow to thunderous applause from the floor. MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy, when opening the Youth assembly and speaking on the topic of globalisation, also hinted at exterior threats by saying, "We are not enemies, our enemies are from outside."

A three-term Youth chief before, Chan also congratulated Liow for his "high-spirited speech" saying that the latter had touched on important national issues. "Don't just talk. There must also be action," Chan said.

Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, who attended the opening of the assembly, told reporters later that "Khairy is attending a meeting. This is the time when Umno divisional meetings are on".

"I know you all will ask me this question," said Hishammuddin, who is also the Barisan Nasional Youth chairman, in response to a question from the media as to why Khairy did not attend the opening of the MCA Youth assembly.

On Khairy's remark that Barisan Nasional component parties would take advantage of a weak Umno, Hishammuddin reiterated that: "What is important is that it is not as portrayed. The intention is not to hurt."

Hishammuddin also praised Liow, saying that he was clever in politicking now, referring to Liow's reference to statements made by the former's late father and late grandfather on the importance of national interests over that of just one group.

Liow was speaking indirectly to hit on certain leaders who had resorted of late to using racial issues to score political mileage.

"Having quoted my father and grandfather, I just don't know how to respond," said Hishammuddin.
(The Star)

26 August, 2006

Anwar's return

Anwar's return

The government's crisis, the opposition's opportunity

MALAYSIA'S opposition and much of the outside world saw Anwar Ibrahim as a political prisoner for the almost six years he spent in jail, until his release in 2004. Mr Anwar had been convicted on dubious charges of sodomy (a crime in Malaysia) but most analysts reckoned his real offence had been to present a challenge to the then prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, whose deputy he had been. The conviction was overturned after Mr Mahathir's retirement and Mr Anwar went to teach at an American university. But now he is back home and on the campaign trail, at a time of great tension in Malaysian politics and with an election perhaps only a year or so away.

In recent months, the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) has been convulsed by the barrage of attacks Mr Mahathir has launched on the man he chose to succeed him as prime minister, Abdullah Badawi. Mr Mahathir accuses Mr Badawi of being weak, hints at graft in government circles and lambasts his successor for ditching some of his pet projects. Earlier this month Mr Mahathir sent letters to millions of UMNO members, accusing the leadership of obstructing him from speaking at party meetings. Mr Badawi's officials claim Mr Mahathir is plotting to topple the prime minister.

Could the government's crisis be the opposition's, and Mr Anwar's, opportunity? Mr Badawi won the last election, in 2004, by a landslide, partly by promising many of the political and economic reforms that Mr Anwar had called for from his jail cell. Little progress has been made on these, though Mr Badawi has taken the brave step of cutting fuel subsidies. In May's elections in the state of Sarawak, a stronghold of the UMNO-led governing coalition, opposition parties won eight of the 71 seats, up from just one last time.

Mr Anwar is touring the country, promoting his multiracial People's Justice Party, Keadilan. At a press conference on August 24th he claimed Malaysia's electoral rolls were riddled with fraud, giving the example of a tiny shack found to have 142 registered voters. Four days earlier, defying police attempts to ban it, he spoke to a rally of several thousand supporters in Kuala Lumpur. Mr Anwar asks many of the same questions Mr Mahathir poses about the government's competence and honesty. Unlike Mr Mahathir, he also attacks Malaysia's positive-discrimination policies for ethnic Malays.

To get anywhere, Mr Anwar must unite a disparate opposition. His party is small and largely Kuala Lumpur-based. It is led, officially, by Mr Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah, while he awaits the expiry of a ban on political office (on another dubious conviction, for corruption). The two main opposition groups, the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS, mainly Malay) and the Democratic Action Party (the DAP, mainly Chinese), distrust each other. Mr Anwar's attempts to get all three parties to agree a minimal common platform open him to the charge of trying to be all things to all people. Others fear that he is a dangerous opportunist, not above dabbling with Islamic extremism to satisfy his ambitions.

In any case, he has a huge mountain to climb. In the 2004 election the opposition got only 20 seats to the ruling coalition's 198. But Mr Anwar thinks that victory is possible. “We just have to work hard,” he says. A good showing at the next election could see the ruling coalition start to disintegrate, reckons Steven Gan, editor of Malaysiakini, a brave online newspaper.

While hoping that Mr Anwar will stay in opposition and build bridges between Malays and non-Malays, P. Ramasamy, a political scientist linked to the DAP, says Mr Anwar's best chance of becoming prime minister is to rejoin UMNO. If Mr Mahathir's attacks continue, Mr Badawi just might invite Mr Anwar back, as a more palatable way of shoring up his support than appeasing Mr Mahathir. Mr Anwar still has friends in his old party—but also enemies, especially those angling to be Mr Badawi's eventual successor. Mr Anwar insists that the question of his rejoining an “obsolete” UMNO “does not arise”. He notes, though, that it is unwise to preclude any possibility in politics.



PM Questions How Mahathir Could Have Obtained Secret Documents

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi Friday night expressed bewilderment as to how Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad could have obtained secret documents on Malaysia's offer to sell sand to Singapore as claimed by the former Prime Minister.

"He has the secret documents? How could he have obtained them?" the Prime Minister told reporters after chairing a meeting of Umno's Supreme Council here.

Abdullah was asked if the government would give a written assurance to Dr Mahathir to protect him from prosecution under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) if he (Mahathir) revealed proof that Malaysia was the one who offered to sell sand to the republic during negotiations between Malaysia and Singapore for a bridge to be built to replace the existing causeway linking the island with Johor.

Abdullah earlier had asked why Mahathir should be afraid of action being taken under the OSA if he merely wanted to reveal the evidence.

"Why should we charge him under the OSA?" he asked.

Abdullah said the government had no problem in accepting the evidence from Mahathir if it was proven that the latter indeed had it.

"If he wants to hand it over, we don't have any problems with that," he said.

Dr Mahathir before this had said that he had with him documents that would show that it was Malaysia which offered to sell sand to Singapore but feared that action might be taken against him if he were to reveal them.



The World's Richest People 2006 - Forbes

The highest ranked Malaysian was Robert Kuok jointly at 114, but most of the time he is staying in Hong Kong. Got his start trading rice, sugar and wheat flour in Malaysia in 1949 and in Singapore in 1953. Today heads multinational Kuok Group with interests ranging from shipping to real estate to media. His Malaysia International Shipping Corporation is the leading dry bulk shipper in the Pacific basin; his Transmile Group, which transports freight by air, has landing rights in China and India. In Hong Kong owns modern warehouse and cargo distribution centers; and in China, plants for processing edible oils and 10 Coca-Cola bottling plants. The group also owns and manages extensive sugar and oil palm plantations, mills and refineries in Malaysia and Indonesia. Has 38 hotels throughout Asia Pacific including the luxurious Shangri-La.

Ananda Krishnan, Harvard Business School grad and former oil-trader, his holdings include Maxis Communications, Malaysia's largest cell-phone service provider, with more than six million subscribers; now entering the Indian cell-phone market. His Measat satellites help telecoms and broadcasters reach customers and audiences across Southeast Asia, China, South Asia and Australia. Also controls racetrack betting and lottery systems in Malaysia via Tanjong Public, was ranked jointly at 147. Genting's Lim Goh Tong at 245th.