A concerned Malaysian writes about Malaysian affairs. "You are the Change you Seek" Barack Obama

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Malaysia Needs a More Transparent System to Appoint Judges

How can a a civilised nation accept a situation where the post of Chief Judge goes unfilled for eight months?

Clearly something is amiss in the the selection and evaluation process when such an important position is not filled in a timely manner.

It seems that a Judical Commission may provide a better system than the current one where the Prime Minister vets the selection made by the Chief Justice and the choice is then approved by the Council of Rulers.

Maybe we can copy the USA style and use a Select Committee where perhaps 3 or 4 candidates nominated by the Chief Justice are called before the Committee and asked questions about their work or lifestyle.

This committee will be made up of MPs, similar to the PAC and also perhaps someone from the Bar Council. They will recommend perhaps 2 names to the Prime Minister for submission to the Agong for selection.

As we advance as a nation, we need to improve such procedures that may have worked in the past but now appear to be inadequate.

Chart to show selection criteria. You can make your own. Best candidate is one with most points. For lifestyle inappopriate lifestyle scores lower marks. Maximum points is 10 for each factor.


Beware the Predators of Children.....

Many parents are still ignorant about keeping their children safe or simply negligent especially in the larger cities.

Kampongs may have been safe havens where neighbours look out for each other but cities should be treated with great caution as the sense of caring for other people is lacking as most people are in a hurry or do not know about other people's problems. There is usually more delay to offer help as one can also become the victim of a staged incident.

We had a basic rule for our four children untill they were teenagers. "No going out on your own without an adult".
This meant that activities like swimming etc were closely supervised.

It is sad for a family to suffer a loss like this and it may be too late already for this poor girl.

So parents please do not allow your small children out unaccompanied as there are many predators out there.

This incident happened to my son about 2 years back in Johor Bahru.
He was waiting for a bus along the Tebrau Highway opposite the Plaza Pelangi when two youths approached him.

One of them asked him to follow them to some shops nearby. They spoke in Chinese and he replied in English, saying he did not want to follow them.

The guy repeated the request and my son still refused. He observed that the guy took out a small knife but kept it behind him and my son got a little worried . He was debating whether he should try to disarm the guy with some Judo his sister had taught him. My son is about 1.70m tall and built like a rugby player so he was somewhat confident about protecting himself.

Then he saw his bus approaching and told the guy he had to go and the other guy then told his partner to stop the harrassment of my son.

I suspect it could have been a test for a new gang member to see how efective he was to recruit new members or it could have been a kidnap attempt.

After that we did not allow him to take the bus for a few months. And I drove around the area with him asking if he could spot the two guys. This area is probably a good spot for extortionists as the Omega private schools are in the vicinity.

Photo: Thanks to the Star

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

After 50 Years Malaysian Leaders Have Yet to Mature

Of course no Malaysian leader has been in charge for 50 years, God forbid that and heaven help us if that were possible.

But we do have the ruling coalition that has been in power for so long that many people cannot think that if we had a more influential opposition to provide more checks and balances in Parliament, Malaysia should be able to challenge even Singapore to generate wealth for all the people.

Given our immense oil and gas wealth and a larger market, we should at least be able to trial that tiny red dot as a close second. But alas we keep losing our brain power so that even today we have government sponsored doctors who remain overseas after making good use of the taxpayers' monies.

We have witnessed the loss of billions of our national wealth through well-known scandals like the BMF,MAMINCO,currency speculation, Perwaja,Mv Augusta, Bakun and it seems PKFZ should also be included and yet not a single person has resigned or brought to justice.

Each year we churn out thousands of graduates who cannot be employed and we should expect that a few dozens of these will provide fertile recruitment targets for terrorist groups. After all we had one Malaysian with a well-paid job who became an international bomber.

Some people say that Malaysia is an Islamic nation because the country is governed following good Islamic principles. Does it mean that universal values of good governance are exclusive to Islam?

Of course many will complain that there is not much good governance in Malaysia anyway and people just make unauthorised declarations.
Parliament of course has become an expensive rubber stamp that should have been able to stand the recent roof leakages.

So dear reader if you want Malaysia to survive the next 50 years we need more responsible people in Parliament. When you meet your MP the before the next elections, ask him a few questions on how he can help Malaysia progress. Before you do that make sure you are registered to vote.

As for the PM's latest declaration, I regret writing a letter to malaysiakini about six months after he took office urging people to "give him more time".

Happy 50th Kemerdekaan Malaysia (or Malaya)!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

How to Monitor Bus Companies and Errant Drivers?

One of Steven Covey's principles is "Begin with the End in Sight" and I believe this can be applied to the numerous problems with bus companies and fleeing drivers.

The move by the police to go after the bus companies is timely and and once again proves that we already have enough laws to control the problems.

A bus company exists because it operates buses and I believe the following measures will enable the authorities to control the accident situation better:

1.Bus companies are authorised to operate only a fixed number of vehicles on any approved routes; subject to annual reviews.
2.All outstation trips to be approved with fixed schedules.
3.Bus drivers must be company employees, with a variable percentage perhaps 25% who may drive on contract.
4.Strict checks to be made on contract drivers by the company before they are allowed to drive on any trip.

Repeat offences by the company will result in suspension or cancellation of the bus permit.
While it is good the authorities have taken stern measures to curb the errant companies, it will be more effective and a longer lasting solution if after the current intensive course of enforcement, a consistent and continuous enforcement is planned.

That could mean redesign of work schedules of enforcement to cover three shifts and not incur too much overtime as in the current blitz?

Photo: Thanks to the Star

Monday, August 27, 2007

Staying Home is Better than Risking Your Life

This problem is expected.
Bus drivers are feeling the heat from the operation to crack down on errant companies and rogue drivers and there is a threat to upset the plans of the travelling public during the next "balik kampong" festival.

I suggest that it is better to be safe than sorry and if one cannot return to one's hometown during the crowded season, one should plan to do so at a more convenient time that ensures you actually get home safely.

If it can be helped I refuse to travel during the main festivals as the highways are not only crowded but also infested with too many inexperienced drivers.

I just shift the travel time to within a month of the festival and travel outside of the peak periods. The main purpose of any travel is to arrive safely and not become a victim in some horrible pile-up.

The authorities should not let up on the traffic offenders and safety operation. I sat in a JB town bus this afternoon and observed the bus driver giving some hand signals to his friend on another bus to indicate "nothing ahead". Perhaps that guy is also on the wanted list?


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Malaysia Needs More Parents Like These

Raising a family is such a difficult task and if burdened with financial problems it can become a desperate one.

Most parents strive to provide the best for their children but unfortunately some parents prey on their own children as seen in the many cases of rape and even infanticide reported in recent months.

This family had six members and the mother was a housewife. The eldest daughter must have shown great determination for the parents to sacrifice a lot to enable her to study medicine as that was her great ambition.

Malaysia badly needs more parents like these who were able to motivate their daughter to struggle and strive hard to fulfill her goals.

SYABAS Shirley and your proud parents! You are a fantastic example of what people can achieve without any government assistance. It is sad that Malaysia did not see it appopriate to admit you to a local university to study medicine.

Thanks to the Star for a "feel good" story!

Good Job by Tourism Ministry

VMY2007 appears to be a huge success with a shortage of rooms in the popular areas.

Instead of allowing visitors to overstay in places like KL and Penang, perhaps offer them trips to Ipoh or Seremban and other places that are not so crowded.

Even Cameron Highlands can be promoted to those who like a more relaxed pace.
I think Malaysia is a paradise for those who like food, sun and sand plus shopping at good prices!
But we still need to work on the public security and safety issues.

PKFZ - RM4 Billion White Elephant or Diamond Mine?

There are always two sides to a coin and so it all depends on your position in the toss.

It is accepted by most people that Port Klang is a most strategic port for Malaysia and it is important for the government to ensure it operates with maximum efficiency.

It is also important to realise that we are competing with Singapore to become a regional hub and any weakness in costs or operating efficiency will result in the port becoming just another feeder station.

Thus it becomes more urgent and important for the PAC to be allowed to complete its task without outside influences.
As we celebrate 50 years as a nation it is time to start behaving like an adult and realise that there should be full accountability of public resources.

If there has been any mismanagement or neglect or abuse of authority, the culprits should not be let off to commit more damage to the nation.

After all RM2 billion over budget is quite a far sum, don't you think?

Graphics: Thanks to malaysiakini

Friday, August 24, 2007

Is MBJB Liable for Death Caused by Neglect?

This story about compensation in Kuantan indicates that the accident that caused the death of a pillion rider could also be attributable to the negligence of the MBJB in maintaining the roads in a safe condition.

This would be a good case to sue the MBJB for the loss of life of a young man.

Perhaps someone also needs to get killed at this demolished road divider that is now in its third month of disrepair.

Meanwhile the JB City market had its roof repaired about 2 years ago and already the repaired sections are leaking profusely. I suspect the contractor used paper thin GI sheets or some moron decided to do some welding on the roof and caused the start of corrosion.

I suppose one cannot expect incompetents to understand basic engineering.

Make Sure You Borrow in Billions

That way the banks will try and make your life easier as if your company goes bust they too have a major problem to solve.

Better still get the government to issue some letters of support so that it seems the government has given its approval of your multi-billion ringgit project.

Then get a foreign partner who may or may not "understand" how things operate here and once the project kicks off, arrange for an "amicable" parting of ways.

That way, the authorities will revert to the usual practice of giving your company a very soft loan so you can really enjoy the ride all the way to the bank.

But if you borrow a few thousand ringgit and cannot affort a few months housing payments, the banks will surely repossess your property.

Malaysia Truly Boleh!

Removal of Unlimited Discounts Will Help Housing Developers

It is good that the authorities are trying to keep housing affordable for the common folks and some people cannot even afford to buy low-cost houses that are now pegged at RM42,000.

Many of these are occupied by Malaysians who really struggle to make ends meet when costs of oil, tolls and even basic food keep increasing. It must be really difficult to surive on RM2000 per month these days if one lives in a city and has 2 or more school-going children. Some people even have to support aged parents who have already exhausted all their life savings; especially those who used their savings to finance their children's private education.

No doubt the cost of housing will rise and it will even affect the middle class but we should not worry too much about them as they can always "change their lifestyle".

One area that developers should explore is the blanket discount of 10% and above that must be given to Bumiputera buyers regardless of whether the buyer already owns 1 or 20 houses.

This policy is quite illogical as it means that many first time purchasers must in effect make up for all the discounts given to other buyers who may already be millionaires.

Often these lots remain unsold untill much later in the project and the extra holding costs translates into higher prices when the lots are released.

A fairer scheme will provide this discount only to a first time house purchaser and when a housing scheme is first launched, the Bumi first time buyers can be asked to register for the discount so that the developer does not have any lots that remain unsold untill late into the project.

I watched the Singapore PM's presentation on how the Housing Development Board plans to upgrade thousands of flats and it was quite impressive. If only our low-cost homes could have some of those facilities as provided for in our tiny dot neighbour.

Now if we only eliminate some of those billion RM bail-outs?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Did a Meteorite Crash into Malaysia?

It is good that the various government agencies are taking firm measures to bring errant bus companies and drivers to book.

Not taking action against those who flout traffic rules is tantamount to allowing killers on the roads and it is disappointing that we do not have a continuous and consistent law enforcement by the various Director-Generals instead of the so-called blitz which lasts a week or a month and then it is back to the old bad habits. That is the reason for the sarcastic heading.

It is not as if the government is short of manpower - it seems we are at least 40% overstaffed but you can guess what some people are doing in the civil service.

It should be a fairly simple process to establish a database for the various departments to collate data on a weekly/monthly basis to determine how effective is any enforcement agency.

For example - the JPJ can do an analysis of demerit points and offences committed by drivers:

Points exceeding 20 - action level 50 per 100,000 drivers
Summons unpaid - action level exceeds - RM200,000
Warrants not enforced - action level exceeds 50 per 100,000 drivers

As we get better, the action levels can be reduce as we tighten up on standards. These are not definitive items - I am sure the JPJ can come up with better suggestions.

The main point I would make is that it should not take an specific order from the Minister to get such measures taken. The actions by the various departments should be what is expected as a routine activity.

Only then will we be able to enjoy peace of mind on our roads.

Photo: Thanks to the Star

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Making Express Buses Safe

I caught a discussion on RTM1 this morning when a JPJ official showed a diagram of a bus constructed in Russia where the the frame of the bus is constructed so that the roof structure is welded to the chassis at the bottom of the bus.

I believe in Malaysia the majority of buses have a bare chassis that we sometimes see being driven on the highways with the driver exposed to the elements and this can be built up as a lorry or bus according to the buyer's needs.

This means that any framework added on as for a bus cannot be very strong and in most bus accidents, the top half where the passengers are sitting is easily crumpled or even sheared off.

If you are secured with a seat belt that may increase your chance of being decapitated as you may be in an upright position. So a seat belt may save you from being thrown out but it may just position you in a dangerous position when the roof is sheared off.

The long term solution to make express buses safer is the following:

1.Start a program to remove all poorly designed express buses from the roads within the next 5 years.
2.Grant tax incentives to bus companies to buy safe buses.
3.Reduce speed limits for substandard buses by 20kph on highways.
4.Government program to buy substandard express buses to allocate to cities like JB where all buses over 15 years old should be scrapped.

There was a comparison made between air pilots and bus drivers and the following should be part of the comparison.

Air pilots have strict terms of employment but bus drivers freelance.
A pilot takes care of about 350 passengers whereas a bus driver may have about 40.
Pilots have strong unions to care for them while a bus driver is basically a single contractor.

We should expect improvements in bus travel but in the meantime I will suggest you to avoid travelling in any express bus after 11pm.

Photo: Thanks to the Star

Inspector-General of Police on RTM2

There was an interesting panel discussion on RTM at 11pm last night and I thought the IGP was quite impressive.

He comes across as a direct and dynamic leader and hopefully he will restore much of the lost confidence of the public in the Royal Malaysia Police.

He even did not oppose the views of the SMS poll that showed the public still wants the independent commission so that the force will achieve more.

We were not told why his contract was extended by another 2 years after the first year but don't be surprised if the IPCMC is formally announced just before the next General Elections as a vote getting gimmick.

I suggest the IPCMC should be done earlier so that by the time the elections are announced, the public will be able to see some tangible results and not just more promises.

We have been fed many promises already but with little results.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Education Ministry Should Not Backtrack

It would be a mistake for the ministry to backtrack on English for the following reasons:

1.The same reasons to postpone the use of English will be given next year.
2.Remedial measures to improve teaching standards will also be delayed.
3.Pupils and teachers will not make a better effort to teach and learn in English.

I would let the papers be tested in English but moderate the passing marks so that the same percentage as the average of the last four years will be achieved. The following year, the moderating can be stricter with better proficiency of the language.

That is the true test and really no need to conduct surveys.

It is also surprising to learn that the milk scheme to schools is a big money spinner for some companies. Perhaps we should allow more competition here so that quality improves.

Education is a tough ministry and it also needs tough decisions.


Excellent Service from Some Government Departments

Maybe I can be considered biased as I have 3 daughters and a son, but I think the government has done the right thing to promote women into the higher echelons of the civil service and some departments are now delivering excellent service to the public.

Kudos to the IRB for promising to return taxpayers all backdated taxes as I am sure thousands of taxpayers will be happy to read of this public undertaking.

Some taxpayers have refunds dating back a few years but no annual statement stating the credit has been given by the IRB so one wonders if somehow the monies could have been stolen by rogue officers; similar to what happens to dormant accounts in some banks.

Apart from the IRB, the JPJ and Immigration departments have made tremendous improvements in their service counters and I understand that they are now testing applying for a passport via bank ATMs.

To all those hardworking women leaders in the civil service, WELL DONE!
How do you think we can progress more if Malaysia had a woman PM?


Monday, August 20, 2007

PM's Speech to Youths was Good

I watched on TV3 part of the PM' speech to the Youth Congress and thought the speech was good in the sense that he decided to speak from his heart and not from the prepared text and that made a world of difference.

The body language and eye contact with the audience was quite different from the speeches he makes when reading from the text.

I suggest to the PM that he should ask his speechwriter to deliver the prepared speech to him privately and if he falls asleep during the delivery, the speech should be rejected. This is a very simple but effective evaluation.

Any good speech should have the following elements:

1.An attention-grabbing opening.
2.Two or three main points with current examples.
3.A wrap up repeating the main points.
4.A definite conclusion.

A speech should be between 10 to 15 minutes and language should be direct and not given like a boring lecturer.

Friday, August 17, 2007

How Secure Do You Feel on the Bus Called Malaysia?

That is the question for you to ponder as we approach the 50th Anniversary of Merdeka.(Technically that is correct for Malaysia was formed later)

Since we had the tragic bus accident, I think it is appropriate to consider how we are doing on the Highway to being a developed nation.

MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 29 will end in the first week of September.


Not Everyone Can be a Doctor or Engineer

It is good that the Education Ministry has decided not to scrap the UPSR as this marks the transition from primary school to secondary school.

The UPSR can be used to gauge any weakness a pupil will have so that remedial steps can be taken. A few students may also decide that they prefer to do vocational training after their UPSR and these students can start learning such skills like carpentry, sewing and bakery etc.

I think parents should play a more active role in nurturing their children rather than the usual activity of just shunting them from one tuition class to another.

I know many parents even take leave to coach their children during school exams and I feel sorry for both as it really places so much stress on passing exams.

I had a more lax attitude with my 4 kids who studied in Singapore but my wife encouraged them to take some tuition not to pass but to get "A"s and I think the maximum for tuition was 2 subjects.

I also suggest the Education Ministry should do more to encourage more inter-school and interstate activities for various uniformed groups like Scouts and SJAB and Cadets as these will improve discipline and racial interaction among our youth.

There is no need to have too intensive a schedule but something like the following:

Twice a year - weekend camp among 2 or 3 schools in a district
Once a year - weekend camp at state level
Once in 3 years - weekend camp at national level

With such a regular program, I am sure when the youths go for NS, there will be fewer problems. In fact the NS could even be shortened to say 2 months as the youths would have already been properly nurtured.

Photo: Thanks to http://www.cs.sjsu.edu/~teoh/personal/photos/places/summer_2006/singapore/schools003.jpg. Even in land scarce Singapore, generous space is provided for games and sports.This is not a sports school.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Still Pussy-footing on Recalcitrant Borrowers

It is good that the authorities are able to trace 40,500 odd borrowers who are on the list of borrowers who owe the goernment part of the RM1billion in unpaid loans.

These borrowers have secure jobs and should be responsible enough to start repaying their loans so that other young Malaysians will not be deprived of further education.

However the measure to get them to make a statutory declaration
that they are not on the blacklist appears a little comical except that this is a serious matter that has dragged on for too many years.

Don't be surprised if some of those borrowers have cheated us permanently by passing into the next world or migrated. The guarantors should then offer a defence of negligence by the authorities but I'm not sure if this is a valid arguement.

To get the right message to all who borrow and then shirk repayments, the authorities could make use of the standard clause in most employment letters that come under "dan lain lain" duties.
Surely not repaying a loan can be considered a dishonest act and an unhonourable behaviour unbecoming of our civil serants that aspire to be world class?

Since the authorities know who they are, they should be issued a warning letter or face disciplinary action within one month of the notice.

That immature youth in Taiwan has to face the music for insulting the National Anthem. So too should all the recalcitrant borrowers. I think the nation would also benefit if more drastic action is taken now.

The people who borrowed money should be required to repay their loans immediately if they are earning an income. And let's make that a reasonable amount like 10% to 15% of the basic salary plus 50% of annual bonus.

Don't forget those famous words, "Some people need to change their lifestyles".
Photo: Thanks to http://www.biblehelp.org/images/stacks%20of%20money.jpg

Only 1 Person out of 72 Supports the Government on Toll Secrecy

"Why Do You Think the Government Has Changed its Mind about Disclosing Toll Agreements?"

That was the question of MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 28.
72 readers took the trouble to give their views.

I Support the Government's Decision....................1 reader

The OSA have been Abused to Favour Government Cronies. Toll Agreements should be made public.............................. 45 readers

The Public Have Been Cheated and Disclosure will Anger the Citizens
................................ 22 readers

The Government has made a major blunder with secret Toll Agreements
............................ 4 readers

WARNING! Safety Barriers Can Kill More People

According to this report, many instant remedies have been proposed to prevent accidents similar to the latest bus tragedy.

This particular one worries me a lot:

"Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said safety rails along highways and roads would be upgraded to withstand the impact of a crash. He ordered the Public Works Department to start installing double guardrails along dangerous stretches on highways and roads.

"The existing guardrails can be easily destroyed when heavy vehicles crash into them.

"The double guardrails will be able to withstand the impact of a crash," he said after launching his ministry’s Merdeka Day celebrations yesterday.

Samy Vellu said he had also ordered the Malaysian Highway Authority to ensure that the rails were made of steel.

He said the cost of the exercise would be borne by the highway concessionaires for the highways, state governments for state roads and the PWD for federal roads."

It would be more reassuring if the minister would quote what standards the ministry will be following instead of the usual instant formula dished out and the prospect of spending more taxpayers' monies.

The purpose of a guard rail is to reduce death and damage and even in so-called advanced countries safety barriers can cause more deaths if they are not properly designed.

I would imagine if a barrier can "withstand the impact of a crash" there would be very little chance of survial in a small car that could be completely wrecked against guardrails "made of steel" that is stronger than existing guardrails which deform and absorb some of the energy of the crash vehicle.

If a vehicle is out of control, this is the ideal scenario for minimal loss of lives:

1.The vehicle hits the guardrail and does not "bounce" off it into the paths of oncoming or following vehicles.

2.If the speed is too great the guardrail should deform but not break and cause more serious damage.

If a driver is in some control of the vehicle he should be able to come to a safe stop but we really cannot design any safe barrier for a bus that is speeding at 110kph and out of control.

I had this experience on the BKExpressway in Singapore about 3 years ago.
It was about 2:30pm and I was about 500m behind a car travelling at about 100kph.
It was like a slow-motion movie.
The car in front started weaving across the 2 lanes of the BKE and then it hit the right guard rail. It then cut across and hit the left guardrail and turned turtle and there was a shower of sparks as the roof dragged along the road on the left-most lane.

The moment I saw the car hit the first rail, I had slowed down and by the time I reached the stricken car, the driver was crawling out of the vehicle.

Since we do have OSHA in Malaysia they should specify what type of guardrails are appropriate.

Photo: Safety barrier in JB city. Now into third month of neglect.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Weakest Link - Really No Soft Options

We have reached a level of incompetence and "tiadapathy" that everytime a tragedy like the latest bus accident occurs, everyone in authority runs about like some headless chicken that has just been chopped and create a lot of noise.

The present government has been in power for umpteen years but it seems like the old story that some people gain experience and grow with the job while others stagnate and just accumulate more years making the same mistakes.

It seems that the authorities appear to be more the latter than the former. In fact we appear to be regressing as more rules are made and less enforcement is being carried out.

We have become so soft that the authorities are now planning to offer VSS to even to the worst employees who should have been sacked years ago. It seems that managers in the civil service do not know how to handle uncivil workers.

For this accident, the blame has been put on the "demerits" system that allowed this dangerous driver to escape the various loopholes.
To me the person who devised and implemented the system should be fired and I mean someone at the level of the Director-General or Asst DG.
That should surely send the message that the government means business with respect to road safety.

To ensure that only "clean" drivers are allowed to operate public vehicles I would use the MyKad as a security check and link it with the JPJ or other enforcement body. The bus company must input the driver's Mykad details and get a clearance for each road trip for express buses.

Any express bus trip that uses a "wanted" driver will result in both the bus driver and company official serving a mandatory jail term; perhaps one week for a first offence. Of course some skeptics will claim that all this only provides more "jalan" for corrupt officials but we must assume that the RMP is cleaning up their own house. In fact CVLB or the appropriate enforcement officials should regularly be stationed at express bus terminals to check the bus and driver logs.

The other disturbing news on road tragedies during the past week was the van in which five youths were killed and today's news where a 17-year old driver perished.
Parents, if you love your children, make sure you supervise their driving for a few weeks after they pass the test and do not allow them to drive solo untill you are comfortable with their driving skills.

Did you know that the following is not tested for learners?

1.Emergency braking procedure. Only theory tested no practical.
2.Overtaking as in country roads without the road divider.

I think that ignorance in these two procedures can cause many accidents.
I have had 1 daughter and 1 son take the Malaysian driving test and both were under supervision for at least a month before being allowed to drive solo.
Even so my daughter crashed into the back of another vehicle in a KL pileup as the brakes on the Kancil were less effective than the other vehicles as she was driving too close to the front car.

If you want them to drive make sure they do not cause more accidents and bring you much grief.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

We Too Are Passengers in a Bus Called Malaysia

This was an accident just waiting to happen.

As usual we have a plethora of suggestions ranging from having seat belts for passengers to improving the health of the drivers so that such accidents do not happen.

It is sad when so many deaths could have been prevented if bus drivers are properly registered with bus companies and not allowed to freelance.

But we should consider this accident as a bigger picture -

Malaysia is a bus that is 50 years old and we have had the same company operating the bus.
There has been a change of drivers but one driver stayed for many years and changed the whole system of driving the bus so many procedures have been radically changed. The passengers too are demanding a more comfortable ride and better control of the bus with a more transparent system.

Many passengers have been scared of the bus driver's ability and the company and shifted to better buses.

Meanwhile that bus is being overtaken by newer buses on the highway called Globalisation.
Will the stakeholders get a new company to operate the bus called Malaysia?

Photo: Thanks to the Star

Not the Real Deal So Really a Waste of Public Funds

No wonder this minister decided to opt out of the important post of Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.
It now transpires that more important things had to be done - like buying an expensive Hollywood prop like this RM170k car that will probably end up collecting cobwebs within 3 years.

What a waste of tapayers' monies.It is not the original car and simply "make believe". What is the government acting about?

They could have easily made a replica locally with such an appropriate number for the Chinese fans. 4442 looks good for those cars burnt at Chinese funerals.

Photo: Thanks to the New Straits Times

Monday, August 13, 2007

Maybe We Should Ban Overnight Travel Too

This is a terrible accident and the cause could be speeding, falling asleep while driving or a mechanical failure.

Since there is a call to stop petrol sales after 10pm that I think would be more acceptable if extended to midnight, we should also consider banning express buses that travel during the early morning as some companies and drivers do not follow rules on adequate rest.

Don't be surprised if some drivers do a day job or business before embarking on that midnight express. To keep awake, some drivers also take drugs.

Travel at such times is dangerous as most passengers sleep and cannot caution the driver for speeding and traffic rules are less enforced at 3:00am. Maybe we should ban such buses from travel from 2am to 6am to reduce the road carnage.

Too Many Laws and Not Enough Enforcement

Some people believe that new laws must be passed whenever any problem arises.

This proposal that includes the revocation of citizenship and even extradition of those who are overseas will only push the AG's office into a tailspin as they are already struggling to cope with murders most foul even in our own backyards.

It is somewhat amusing when the authorities claim that the public is susceptible to lies posted on obscure websites - perhaps that is their experience with information and propoganda spewed by the various ministries.

Even the law enforcement agencies are having difficulties remaining honest and Malaysia Today has a most disturbing report written by the former IGP that was published in the Star.

The only positive sign is that the Star had the guts to publish such an article. Hopefully some proper enforcement will be forthcoming soon?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Maybe We Should Also Revoke Passports of Other Offenders

I watched the offending video and think the creator is a misguided youth.

Clearly he has offended the Muslim religion and the Malay race.
Malaysia's problems has nothing to do with both but the political system and the voters who elect corrupt people into office and then are too scared to vote them out thereby creating a system where corruption is deemed to be endemic.

It is interesting that a suggestion has been made to revoke the passport of this student so he must return to Malaysia to face the music possibly under ISA or sedition laws.

I believe we also have other serious offenders who have caused damage to the Malaysian economy by not returning to serve after having completed their studies overseas on government scholarships.

Maybe we should also revoke the passports of these recalcitrants.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Poll is OK Now

MALAYSIAWATCH POLL is working again.
So please give feedback asp

"You Are Our Priority"

That's the challenging slogan displayed prominently in the EPF's office.

The last time I visited the office was about 5 years ago and conditions have changed dramatically.
My wife and I went to the EPF office in JB during the Singapore National Day holiday and the hordes of people in the office looked like a place where free money was being given out.

My wife took a queue number and went to the counter for checking the balance in her account. She was also given some forms to fill.

As far as the counter service is concerned, the staff do a good job and the numbers were being called very quickly. We were about 230 in line waiting but the counters in operation were about 20 for different transactions like withdrawals, unit trusts, nominations etc.

It was about 2hours and 15minutes of waiting before my wife's turn arrived. The handling of her case was done in a courteous manner though a small detail in her case had to be checked with the staff in the next counter.

We finished the transaction at about 5:30pm. Well done to the EPF staff!

Now for a few observations:

There is no cafetaria available to the public for this very crowded facility. In fact even the photo-copy stall has closed down. Kids were running all over the place and making noise and this would affect the working environment.
A cafetaria with linked display panels would improve the conditions for both the public and staff as there were no seats available in the waiting areas. Please visit the Immigration HQ in Singapore and see how they operate the cafetaria there.

For the verification procedure, they scan the thumb print PLUS a set of physical prints. I wonder why they need your prints on paper too. It seems like another loophole to exploit if crooks are about.

In crowded places like the EPF one can observe people from all walks of life.

There was a young mother happily breastfeeding her baby.

The young man in the next booth wanted to close his account as he proudly proclaimed,

"I've renounced my citizenship."
How apt to do it on Singapore's National Day. He looked about 25 and seemed to be of Indian origin. One more talent less for Malaysia but definitely a gain for Others.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

A Reflection for our 50 Years of Independence.

Readers are requested to see the checklist at the bottom and tick off how many points you agree with:

Malaysians need to wake up and demand changes in all aspects of society
including the way we live and are governed if we are not to be forever
condemned as a country with "first class infrastructure and third class

I would argue that it is not really possible to develop really first class
infrastructure with a third class mentality. The facade may be present but
one examines closely the structure, many things are not working well as it
has been so from the time the project was awarded to some incompetent crony
contractor. Think of the hundreds of school computer labs and the naval

Even the present outrage about the rapes of two young girls and the usual
knee-jerk reactions by the authorities is only a symptom of the deep cancer
that has taken hold in the fabric of our society. We have become a society
that responds like a coop of headless chickens running around whenever
something terrible happens be it the rape of young girls, incest, rogue
policemen, crony contracts that have gone terribly wrong.

The following list indicates the spectrum of our problems:

1 The judiciary appears to be in a state of turmoil and many have written
about the perception that the courts have lost their independence. The Anwar Ibrahim case is the on-going example of how it seems politics has clouded the administration of justice.

2 The police are perceived by the public to be avoided by normal folks as they cannot be trusted and even have criminal elements in their midst. The
latest example of a chief inspector-turned- bank robber being shot dead shows how rotten the apples in the barrel are. The high incidence of questionable deaths in police lock-ups should be the subject of a public inquiry as our system of justice is that one is "presumed innocent unless proven guilty" by the courts and not the police.

3 Security firms have been allowed to lease their licences and it appears about 30 percent of them have done so. Another example of how a corrupting
system of patronage allows a few favoured ones to make money by leasing to third parties. This also applies to taxi permits that are given to companies instead of individual taxi drivers.

4 The high rate of divorce and single parents who are not maintained by ex-husbands creates a large pool of neglected juveniles who are easily
influenced by the thrash programmes on TV, the violence of computer games and the availability of uncensored VCDs.

5 The violence on the roads may not be just a consequence of poor planning, overcrowded roads and poor driving methods. I would suggest it is a form of
frustration at how rotten the whole system is and the helplessness to change that system creates demons behind the wheels.

6 I had a discussion with a headmistress of a Chinese school and was
surprised that some classes had 50 pupils compared to 30 to 40 in national-type schools. I guess overcrowding is one way to introduce a disabled system to disadvantage our young Malaysians.

7 The national service is a confirmation that the leaders realise that we have serious problems in national unity. However, three months in a camp
after 12 years of discrimination in the school system is always going to be a losing battle. The Jesuits have a belief that if you allow them to train
your child for the first six years, they will train him for life.

8 The campaign to recruit ex-Malaysians will not work unless the whole system changes. Why would an ex-Malaysian who has escaped a system where
he/she was subjected to so many difficulties and becomes successful in another country want to return to the same system and subject his/her
children to the same predicament? This programme is like closing the stable
door after the horse has bolted.

9 The award of multi-billion ringgit contracts such as the cancelled
double-tracking rail project and the infamous crooked bridge without public
tender and feedback is a clarion sign for all in the public service that
'Anything Goes' under the battle cry of 'Malaysia Boleh'.

10 The disenfranchisement of ratepayers by abolishing local elections has resulted in the failure of local councils to give good service. Johor Baru is a good example where rutted roads with umpteen patches allow motorists to
test their suspensions while millions of ringgit are being spent in an area of town that will become obsolete with the new CIQ (Customs, Immigration and
Quarantine complex).

11 The churning out of thousands of graduates who cannot be employed in any
job without undergoing paid training.

Unless we really want to change Malaysia for the better, we should be
prepared to read of more rapes, incest, rogue policemen and corrupt
politicians. It is time we ask our would-be MPs how they can help to make
Malaysia a better place and not just give them another blank cheque.

As voters, we should exercise that right carefully or be prepared for more
tragedies. Even if there is a sea of change in the BN, we should be prepared
for things to get worse before they get better.

There is an universal law of nature that is against us and that is the law
of entropy where everything ultimately decays and this was proved by the
failure of the New Economic Policy that has resulted in a university system
that produces thousands of unemployable graduates and crony capitalists who
cannot survive without their diamond-studded crutches.

Unless we are brave enough to bring in new ideas, elect new leaders and
create a better system where all Malaysians can hope to share in the
economic benefits, we should expect to read more bad news.

This was a letter to malaysiakini dated Wed Jan 28th, 2004 I wrote before I started this blog

It would be good to share your thoughts so please enter your score in the Comments section. If you agree with the point, count as one etc. The higher the score means you are more unhappy.

Happy 50th Years of Independence!

Mangosteens and another Rent Seeker

I like to eat mangosteens and was fortunate during my youth to stay in a house that had eight trees. During the season I used pluck and eat them by the baskets.

We were warned not to get the juice on our clothes as the sap could result in a permanent stain.

Nowadays the fruit is sold by weight and I usually buy 3 kg for about RM10. It works out to about RM0.30 per fruit.

I bought some today at a fruit stall near the Tebrau market in JB close to the damaged road separator in yesterday's post.

I asked the Malay stall holder how much rental he was paying.
The answer, "about RM1000 per month."

I said, "That's a little costly. Pay to MBJB?"

He said, "No pay to another party. If MBJB will be cheaper. Been paying for many years now."

I wonder why the MBJB does not take back all such rent-seeking schemes. Unless the licencee actually runs the stall he should not be allowed to sub-let.

Photo:Thanks to http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2006/08/09/dining/09mang.1.190.jpg

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

UFO Lands in JB City?

NO this is not something new but has been like this for about 2 months now.

It looks like some UFO has landed and smashed the road separating curb. Now some alien has hoisted a white flag in surrender.
This is the scene from a different angle and heading towards the Tebrau Market in the center of JB city.

For almost 2 months this dangerous situation has continued and motorists headed in the direction of the first photo do not get a warning that the road ends and you need to turn left or right.

There was a large sign erected before but some scrap collector clearly had a field day after the sign was demolished.

Do you think this contract will be done under the 9MP?


MalaysiaWatch Poll 28 seems to have been affected by some kind of malfunction or sabotage.

Before the incident occurred, there were 35 readers who took the poll with the following responses to the question:

“Why Do You Think the Government has Changed its Mind about Disclosing Toll Agreements?”

All 35 pollsters picked an answer that was NOT “I Support the Government’s Decision.”

One person picked “The Government has made a Major Blunder with Secret Toll Agreements”.

About 5 persons picked,” The Public Have Been Cheated and Disclosure Will Anger the Citizens.”

29 readers chose,” The OSA Have been Abused to Faour Government Cronies. Toll Agreements Should be Made Public.”

I am sorry that the poll is not working anymore. If you take the poll, only one tally is recorded. I guess the results are not flattering for some people.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Maybe Even City Mayors Should Not be Sports Officials

There is some discussion on whether ministers and other public officials should hold positions in sports associations.

My opinion is that we should not make rules that treat our leaders like small schoolboys to be told on what they can or cannot do.

The real test is whether the minister is able to discharge his duties competently and able to work as a responsible member of the Cabinet that is tasked with allocating and spending billions of the nation’s wealth.

Ministers should be measured by specific job performance and if they do not measure up they should be replaced without too much hesitation or the whole system deteriorates.

Some will argue that the PM too should not be holding so many posts like Finance and Internal Security as lapses in those departments surely means that the PM too is not competent.

Having given my general feeling on not treating ministers like small schoolboys, there could be a case in JB as to why even the City Mayor should not hold outside posts.

This is a series of photos taken in Taman Melodies within a 3km radius of City Hall.

The first photo is a Rukun Tetangga hut that is more than 10 years old. The hut is built next to a large tree and covers a drain that has been obstructed by the building floor.

The second shot is taken to the left of the shed and shows the leaves and rubbish that have collected in the drain.

The third shot is a view of the interior taken through the broken windows. If you look carefully you can see a puddle of dirty stagnant water.

Now do you think that the Ministers of Health and Local Housing should be looking into this serious health hazard?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Illegals: Prevention Definitely Better than Cure

The numbers are disappointing – of 10,000 illegals that were caught, only 33 have been deported.

If we guess that only 10% of the illegals have been detained, there could be another 90,000 illegals in the country and definitely some of them will resort to robbery and theft to survive.

It appears that more should be done to prevent illegals from entering the country rather than trying to nab them once they arrive.

Let us remember that many illegals already have relatives here and some citizens could also be sheltering illegals.

Having so many illegals also spawns other nefarious deeds like bribing officials of the following departments:

Water supply




Local council

Having tens of thousands of illegal immigrants definitely increases the probability of government officials being subject to bribes and other inducements. Perhaps that causes the perception that bribery and corruption is a way of life here.

Although Malaysia has a fairly large coastline, perhaps we should allocate more defence resources to secure our national boundaries against illegal entry rather than going for sophisticated weaponry that is only useful in a war.

Already ordinary Malaysians are struggling with a daily battle against a high crime wave that has been exacerbated with the growing influx of illegals.

Nowadays even Google Earth can provide detailed views of exact locations. I am sure that with a few geo-stationary satellites we should be able to detect even small boats with illegals or land crossings that can be speedily intercepted with fast patrol boats and helicopters deployed at strategic points on the coasts.

Any boats that carry illegals will be destroyed or given to local fishermen if found suitable.

Do you think an annual budget of RM250m will suffice to upgrade the present facilities for such a defence capability?

Photo: Thanks to the Star

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A Speech to be Delivered by the Prime Minister?

This is a speech that would be welcomed by all Malaysians if it was also delivered by the Prime Minister.

Just look at the main points:

“1.A social order that led to cohesion within and among communities and called for horizontal equity whereby all Malaysians in equal circumstances were treated in exactly the same way;

2.Malaysians of all races and religions engaging one another with absolute civility and respect;

3.Malaysians feeling a deep-seated sense of ownership over the problems of the country and being motivated to take decisive action and make whatever sacrifices necessary for the good of the country;

4.Only Malaysians who were capable, hard working, bold and scrupulously honest being allowed to serve in positions of responsibility; and,

5.The public having a high degree of trust in the pillars of state, the executive, judiciary and legislature, as well as the civil service and police.

In short, a decent Malaysian social order would be one that is based on inclusiveness and accommodation as opposed to marginalisation and discrimination.”

It is a unifying speech with none of the usual discriminatory claims for race and religion and in it Raja Nazrin urges all Malaysians to accept our differences as a source of strength for the nation and not a divisive and disruptive element that we observe in many countries.

He urges the public to reject leaders who are seen as corrupt and immoral so that the nation will restore the trust in the main pillars of state; i.e. the executive, the judiciary and legislature and the police and civil service.

There is also a call to treat all Malaysians equitably and what this means is that the poor of all races should be provided the assistance to get out of the poverty trap but they should also be hardworking and not simply depend on government handouts.

Now do you think some of the leaders who do not meet the criteria will stand down for the net GE or do ordinary citizens have to boot them out?

Photo: Thanks to http://berita.perak.gov.my/dis04/muka2.5.jpg