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

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Corruption101 for DUMMIES

(click2 on image to see details)
Further to the PAC's call in malaysiakini's recent article to arrest ALL those involved in corrupt practices, here is a simple illustration on the many faces of corruption.

The latest revelation of the million-ringgit cop about divisive differences in various departments proves that there are many serious problems simmering.

There are many faces of corruption and the Decision-Maker could be from the highest echelons of society like a judge, a minister or a police chief.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Malaysia's 4-Year Monologue.....

With apologies to Snow White....

I am glad that the authorities have decided to include Kelantan in development and that is surely the correct thing to do. You can read the link to malaysiakini here.

After all we are supposed to have a government of the people.....???

One reads in self-help books that you "need to fake it untill you make it" but I suggest our PM should keep these inner thoughts to himself.

In the famous words from NIKE. Just Do It!

Monday, October 29, 2007

YES! Decision-makers Should be Arrested First...

I like this statement from the PAC chairman that details how corrupt deals are done; according to malaysiakini's article.

According to the article:

"The committee met with the ministry to discuss the progress made by the ministry on the AG’s criticism that the RM226 million government subsidy on rice fertilisers intended to attain a 90 percent self-sufficiency level by 2010 is falling off track.

“Currently the country is producing only four tonnes of rice per acre, a growth rate of only five to six percent yearly and this will not suffice to meet the target,” he said."

It is annoying to see such dismal results when the ministry could have learned proper techniques from this group of rice farmers that produced the highest yields from their small-holdings.

I am not sure what became of the land they were using.

In fact the PAC would be more effective if they focus more on the decision-making process as that is the origin of ALL corrupt practices.

At the goods receiving end, the amount becomes little and related more to inferior good being accepted.
If I were to make a guess, if the person at the last transaction receives RM1000 most likely the decision-maker will get perhaps 20 times that.

Nazri's "Top of Mountain" Speech....

(click2 on image to enlarge)
Couldn't resist this after reading the malaysiakini article on the speech at the Malaysian Law Conference.

Quoting from the article,
"They (Bar Council) are talking from a legal point of view (but) we (the government) run a country. We're looking from the summit of the mountain and they are looking (from) their eye level."

Hmmmm.... Looks as if it is implied the government may be talking from an "illegal" point of view but then again I am no lawyer!

Getting More Bang for our Bucks....

(click2 on picture to see details)
The ACA has been in the news lately especially in relation to the video tape on the "judge fixing" story.
You can read a whole menu of stories at malaysiakini and also the mainstream press where the latest news is that another RM150m has been speedily approved for the police after the fatal shooting of 2 cops.

Everyone seems to have conveniently forgotten about the IPCMC that looked at all the problems faced by the PDRM and this latest fatal shoot-out may have been prevented if we had the IPCMC where issues of funding and strategic planning would have been addressed at the planning level and not as the present fire-fighting mode.

(Note on sketch: Done with Paint and mouse only - took about 2 hours without pencil and scanning)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Police Cannot Protect their Own....

The CID chief has vowed to hunt the killers of the 2 cops who were killed in the shoot-out according to this article in malaysiakini.

Ordinary folks are also angry and scared that these men could be killed while carrying out their duties. No one knows all the details of the ill-fated raid but now the police are being provided more bullet-proof vests. Of course getting killed on duty is a possibility that any policeman knows is part of the risk.

Many also question the wisdom of spending billions of ringgit on submarines and space tours when our backyard is full of dangerous criminals. And the last A-G Report mentioned helicopters bought for the police that were unsuitable and also wasted funds on the training.

Now the PM has promised police protection for whistle-blowers with special reference to the famous L tape on the fixing of the judiciary.

After the protracted feet-dragging of the authorities like the appointment of a "No Authority" Panel and strange remarks by a minister and the ease with which 2 cops were massacred, it is small wonder that no one has stepped forward with the tape.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Another Authentic Tape Please....

It is surprising that the PM's department needs the PPP to supply them with any tape of that uncalled speech of the Malacca MB that was the height of arrogance; as reported in this malaysiakini article.

When I attended the Article 11 forum in JB there were many cops around to stop untoward incidents and also a few cameramen from the SB; busily recording the proceedings.

I am sure the police could also provide the recording. Now that would be surely genuine.

Friday, October 26, 2007

FLY You to the MOON!

(click2 on picture to see details)
It seems Malaysia is not the first country to send a Muslim to space; according to this letter published in malaysiakini.

The first Muslim went to space in 1985 and that seems eons ago; it was in the last millenium, to be precise. But never mind. The euphoria or mass hysteria has not died down yet and the authorities have now launched our own "space program".

Funding will be an issue and so perhaps this simple sketch will stimulate some creative juice to flow and solve the problem.

Only 5000+ Malaysians Care about Malaysia?

The numbers are a little pathetic and reflects poorly on many Malaysians who may be afraid or not really bothered about the nation according to this malaysiakini article.

It looks like people in Pakistan and Burma are more patriotic when it comes to matters of protecting the nation. In Malaysia, the oil and gas is still flowing and many just don't care anymore while public coffers are being squandered.

It's the "Just leave me alone. I'm all right, Jack" and "What can I do?" mentality as the silent majority plod on in their daily routines.

The poll on my site also has the strongest response to request a RCI and secondly to set up a tribunal. Both these choices account for about 80% of the 600 people who responded.

Police Ambushed...

The story that was taken off the NST is printed in the Star.

The cops could have been set-up by the drug dealers as only a small team went to check the premises.

The police should plan for this kind of incident to happen for future raids.

Pssst!.....Want to Buy Some Screw-drivers?

I wonder why this report from NST has the ACA defending the purchase of a common commodity like a screw-driver with the following rationale,

"The Auditor-General said the ministry paid RM8.39mil more than the market price for the items, including RM224 for a set of four screwdrivers (costing RM32 in the market)."

but the ACA defends the decision with

"ACA director-general Datuk Ahmad Said Hamdan said the supplier of the Draper screwdrivers took into account that they were imported and came with a guarantee of authenticity and quality."

This not rocket science. Why bother to import such a basic tool when other imported brands are also in the market like Stanley.

A cheap China product can cost 25% of the cost and since there are no moving parts like a Nuri helicopter, it is not critical to purchase such quality.
Most likely those imported items would "get lost" very quickly and the workers will replace them with the cheap imports anyway.

If we look at the overall abuse in this particular department, the overpricing is about 8 to 10 times the possible market price. So they also screwed up with the screwdrivers. But of course if only one set was purchased the amount is quite small but if 1000 sets are bought the amount escalates rapidly.

Some people are really greedy and it is good the ACA has finally started to take action. Their suggestion for open tenders to reduce corrupt practices also merits a thorough study.

Let's face it. Even with the tender process, it is possible to get away with paying 20 to 25% more than the market price if the tender is awarded to a favoured contractor with some genuine reasons.

Those who specify tenders can also skew the specs so that one contractor can make the best bid.

Some people criticise the ACA for not landing bigger fish but to me any fish is better than no fish. Perhaps they will learn how to catch the sharks after some time.

Photo: Thanks to http://www.reprise.com/HOST/circuits/images/screwdrivers.jpg

Story Censored?

"Two cops killed in ambush KUALA LUMPUR:
Two policemen were killed and two others injured after being ambushed by several men armed with guns during a drug bust at a house in Taman Suria, Sungai Buloh, last night.

By Lee Shi-Ianshiian" Taken from the NST website.

It is sad when policemen get killed in the course of their duties. But why was this story removed from the NST's web-site?

We all know some cops were charged for trying to frame the IGP and we do have crooked cops in the force that the IPCMC was supposed to provide a framework for checks and balance.

This reported incident indicates that it is possible there was a tip-off but this time by a police insider to the drug syndicate.
Is it any wonder that the public is scared to offer information to the police when such things do happen?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

MPs.... Please Speak Up!

Finally we have a BN MP who dares to broach the subject of the infamous "Judge Fixing" tape.

This person certainly is of a higher calibre than many ministers in the Cabinet who have given bad advice to the PM; according to a report in malaysiakini.

A scandal of this nature requires strong and decisive actions and not allowed to fester; especially with the speed of the Internet.

Even if the people in the tape are innocent, much damage has been done to the office.
So MPs please speak up on this issue so we can see the type of people we have entrusted our nation. They can discuss the merits of the CJ's request for an extension.

Bridging the Gaps?

I wrote about this during the past 2 years and finally there appears to be some closure.

According to malaysiakini, the contractor is now going to be compensated about RM293 million as a direct result of cancelling the project.

The new workout of figures also raises questions. Why is there a separate amount of RM380 million for the land premium?
I believe the project is not wholly an immigration and customs operation but also a new commercial complex. Who is the owner?

Instead of answering doubts, this chart only raises more questions. The Auditor-General and the PAC should probe the contract seperately and publish their reports.

Naked Ladies and Transparent Boxes

Maybe we've just wasted another RM1 million on plastic boxes as the Election Commission does not explain how a see-through box will reduce cheating.

You can read the article from malaysiakini here.

Those boxes don't come cheap; being quite a large size and with provision for a slot and a hinged top and lock? I'm guessing between RM20 to RM30 each so that makes a total of at least RM20 x 50,000 or a cool RM1 million.

Do you see the tender specs? If the plastic is not high quality, high impact resistant material and Uv resistant, one will notice the boxes will need to be replaced after 2 or 3 years with the rough handling.

But back to the naked lady analogy or if you wish a naked man. Being able to see everything does not mean a performance will be up to expectations.

In the case of a transparent ballot box, if the voting procedure if flawed the type of box becomes irrelevant. I am referring to postal votes usually from the military and the police where no observers are present.

That would be a better way to reduce cheating if the EC has limited resources. But we just spent RM2 billion on Scorpenes and spending RM5million on the democratic process is not important?

Photo: Thanks to http://www.gadgetdiscovery.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/beyonce.jpg
Beyonce - banned by the Malaysia's fashion police ...S-I-G-H

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Refugee Workers or Duped Migrant Workers?

This is an article in malaysiakini that suggests Malaysia has not signed the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 and the Convention relating to the Stateless Persons 1961 because they want to protect the jobs of Malaysians.

The other weak reason offered was that we could not secure our borders from illegal immigrants as many neighbouring nations like "like the Philippines, Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand" were unsettled.

How convenient to leave out Indonesia that probably landed us with the largest number of illegals in the 70s and many of whom were able to obtain Malaysian ICs. It appears the Deputy Minister wants to avoid offending the Indonesians after the recent incidents involving diplomatic staff and the coach who was beaten up.

Now if we look at the refugee problem together with the 2million migrant workers, many of whom are quite unhappy, we could solve two problems at one go.

1.First of all, don't allow any agents to bring in foreign workers from anywhere.

2.Secondly grant refugee status to all illegals and allow them to work in estates, construction and factories prior to resettlement.

3.Next we must make better use of the Armed Forces, the police and Rela to secure our borders. Why spend a billion ringgit on Scorpene submarines when we cannot even secure an obvious target like the KLIA?

Our manpower policy should be based on these three basic concepts and I expect there will be a reduction in the crime rate.
We will also stand proud in the United Nations as a nation that provides proper treatment to suffering humanity.

Another Idea for Cooperation with Singapore....

This interesting article in malaysiakini talks of a possible re-merger with Singapore and should be given serious consideration.

Apart from the relocation of factories, the Malaysian authorities can also invite the Singapore education ministry to operate some schools in the JB area.

Just take a trip early in the morning and I guess there should be enough pupils for 4 or 5 primary schools and at least 2 secondary schools.

The benefits of these are many. It will ease the Causeway Chaos and give our young children a more restful sleep. I am sure thousands of these children now wake up around 4:30am.

If the peoples of Malaysia and Singapore can cooperate properly I am sure the combined entity will be the powerhouse of Asean for another 20 years.
Of course we need to discard political leaders with narrow interests.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Serious Problems of Migrant Workers Caused by Chaotic Planning...

A letter in malaysiakini highlights the serious problems suffered by migrant workers and it appears that many of them have been cheated of their life savings to come here for non-existent jobs.

In this letter titled "Najib, Radzi to blame for migrant workers woes", the DAP MP for Ipoh Barat tells how each worker has to "pay between RM8000 to RM12000" and this translates to a multi-million ringgit bonanza for some of the 230 approved companies.

We all know that Malaysia has an extremely large Cabinet for its population and even the return from space had to have two Cabinet ministers in attendance.

Surely the DPM should be aware of the serious problems left unattended back home? It is really callous to allow people to cheat innocent workers who then get sent home at taxpayers' expense and risk.

The Manpower Ministry has called for a freeze on all workers untill more "concrete measures" are provided. Meanwhile there is a detailed report from a recent incident reported in the Daily Star which carries the banner "Journalism without Fear or Favour".


(click2 on image to enlarge)

The ACA like the Judiciary and the Police are vital institutions of a free and democratic nation but sometimes there is the perception that the authorities do not really know how to go about pursuing high-profile cases as the effects may be uncontrollable and instead damage control is used.

Even in that great bastion of freedom, we have witnessed in our lifetime how Richard Nixon tried to claim Executive privilege and not allow the Justice department access to his illegal tapes.

Finally the equivalent of the Parliament of Malaysia had to tell him the Congressmen were not going to support him and would also call for his impeachment. There is a movie being shown on Astro titled "Nixon" that is quite interesting.

Today's headlines in the Star in interesting for the following reason:

*It is the first time that action has been taken publicly on gross abuse of public funds and it is hoped this will be the SOP.

To help the ACA stay focussed on the AG's report and other issues, a chart as shown should be displayed on the ACA'a website so that the public will be informed of the progress.

It will also signal to the world and particularly investors that the authorities are really serious about reducing corruption.
The details in the chart shows how a purchase can be abused without going over-budget and is for illustration only.

Monday, October 22, 2007

This Guy Would Be Useful to the Authorities....

I don't know him and have no shares in his company but reading his frequent articles in malaysiakini and the local press, he has a passion to make a contribution to public transport in the country.

To me public transport took a back seat in Malaysia because the authorities were too obsessed to get more Malaysians buy small cars that are really death traps on wheels.

We introduced the mass rapid transit systems in KL but just look at the mess of the different systems where there is no overall seamless system in terms of interchanges or even fair collections. I wonder if they thought of using uniform tracks so that the trains could also be atandardised to reduce spare parts costs.

I took the LRT about 3 years ago so I am not sure if there have been any move towards a single payment system.

One does have to go far to study how a good public transport system works. In fact I make a study about once a week when I take the bus and MRT back from Singapore to JB. Now new public buses in Singapore are installed with an adjustable ramp for wheel-chairs.

Apart from the well-planned locations of interchanges between MRT stations and buses, bus stops are also built just below the MRT stations and always sheltered. The key to quick travel is the EZ-link card, a prepaid card that you tap on a reader and records your start and end of trip. You can read here
how it works .

The mess in public transport is a simple indicator of how bad the master plans have been and it will take years to provide a good sustainable system.

Graphic: Thanks to EZ-link

I Only Feel a Few Dollars Poorer...

I'm not sure if this article from malaysiakini is accurate but our DPM was reported as saying that after that stupendous space trip, Malaysians are "a few inches taller".

I just checked and NO I don't feel any taller but I do feel cheated that RM90 million of taxpayers's monies were blasted into space.

That is one great ego trip for a nation that seems to be wearing thin on many fronts. It reminds me of the great empires that always embarked on vast projects when the empire was collapsing.

But how do you feel? Taller or poorer?

Badawi Makes a Good Speech but....

The atmosphere must have been tense at the PPP assembly for the PM after that "bombshell" from the Malacca MB who abandoned all etiquette for a guest and roundly insulted his host by telling them the PPP could simply leave the BN NOW if they did not like it.

You may know that I have criticised our PM before for making terrible speeches but if you read this article from malaysiakini, you find that Badawi handled the situation well.

I watched a short exerpt of his speech on TV3 and I thought the segment shown was also quite good.

We know that race-based parties in Malaysia had a historical reason when Malaya gained independence but after 50 years as a nation, we see evidence that such parties can also be damaging to national harmony when ultras from the different races can stir up race matters.

Since the PM compared the BN to a family, perhaps this simple analogy could be useful.
In fact some parties in the BN can be likened to the Prodigal Son in the Bible. He demanded his inheritance from his father and then spent it all on loose living untill there was nothing left. He returned home and his father welcomed him back; much to the chagrin of the other son.

While it is good that the PPP's problem will be settled via discussion and consensus within the BN, this problem highlights a long-festering sore within the BN - how to manage the different aspirations of the BN parties.

There will always be conflict between the different parties as they operate on different principles. The main parties are racist while the PPP and the Gerakan are the main parties that have adopted values based on concepts other than race.

For Malaysia to achieve developed nation status by 2020 I feel that the BN leadership should encourage the non-race based parties to grow while those like UMNO, MIC and MCA should be phased out gradually.

This is a very difficult problem to resolve and I would compare it to asking the defense industry in the USA to sue for peace in the Middle East.

But of course voters have the right and the duty to tell them what we feel.

Photo: Thanks to http://www.bbc.co.uk/vietnamese/specials/images/1736_mideastquotes/117340_190706-badawi-afpgetty400.jpg

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Why Go to Hong Kong if Evidence is Inadmissible?

It was reported that the ACA has sent the famous or rather infamous video to Hong Kong to analyse the tape for whatever clues as the 3-man independent panel was both powerless and clueless.

Two officers were sent presumably on a cheap ticket as many airlines have "two to go" packages.

Now this story comes up in malaysiakini that the tape is "inadmissible evidence because the footage was edited.

As such, ACA director-general Ahmad Said Hamdan told Utusan Malaysia that the agency cannot continue its investigations into the matter."

I am sure millions of Malaysians know that the tape was edited weeks ago so this latest news shows how inept the ACA is in resolving issues.

Why spend time and money on a tape that you consider inadmissible? Must be the summer clearance shopping season in HongKong, I guess.

I Remember the PPP.....

Some months back, the PPP ruffled some feathers in the Gerakan by suggesting that the two parties should merge.

In the context of a company merger it was similar to a small SME asking Sime Darby to merge.

As an Ipohite of the 60s, I remember the PPP in its glory days. Then the Alliance Government lost the Ipoh seats to the Seenivasagam brothers who even caused the downfall of the Perak Menteri besar over a legal issue. of course the PPP was in the Opposition then. But local elections were stopped and taxpayers are now denied this important component of a democracy.

It appears that the PPP has now come to the end of the road with the BN with a very public chiding of the party; according to this malaysiakini report . Do they want to eat a lot of humble pie if the party intends to stay with the coalition of the unwilling or unable component parties?

In politics one must be very aware of one's strength and weakness and after this treatment by a senior UMNO official who was the epitome of rudeness and arrogance, PPP members should consider that they need to change course if they want to remain relevant in Malaysian politics.

There is more honour in losing than forever hanging about the table waiting for leftover scraps. But of course you may also win a few seats if you work closely with the opposition.

Now Here's a True Malaysian Hero....

Forget space travel that seems to hog the headlines these few days.

We have a real-life hero right here in Malaysia and this guy did not need any training or preparation to risk his life to save others. It's a good story by the New Straits Times.

I am sure all Malaysians salute you for your courage and selfless efforts. May I suggest the authorities provide him a scholarship to study electrical engineering at a local university. That will not cost RM90 million of taxpayers' funds.
What do you think?

Photo: Thanks to New Straits Times

Letting the ISA Decision Stand...

It will take great leadership and courage for the government to let the plaintiff be awarded more than RM2 million ringgit.

But this article in malaysiakini urges the authorities to accept the court's decision and not to appeal as many Malaysians have the perception that the entire judicial process is suspect with the tape that is quite a revelation.

So far the majority of pollsters think that the 3-man panel is simply useless and believe a Royal Commission of Inquiry is the way forward.

It will definitely take a lot of guts to unravel and heal the grievous wound to the Judiciary caused by political interference but the authorities can take some positive actions to start the process.

Letting the judgement stand is one way to begin.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Strange Things Happen in School...

if students and parents allow it.

Some schools have this tendency to try and fit all their students into a particular mould. According this malaysiakini story, this school wants their students to wear the same dress attire, never mind if it goes against their religious or cultural values.

Maybe it is the show of power or arrogance or is it just sheer lack of sensitivities? I guess some school pricipals like to see how far they can project their influence.

So it is up to parents to protect their own rights and not be bull-dozed by such bureacratic nonsense. Why force parents to spend extra for a costume that the children will not wear normally - simply to impress some VIPs?
If you just yield to such demands, your children will know that you do not have the guts to defend a basic right and your children may be affected by your complacency.

This is what happened to my son in a Singapore school that is well known for donation drives that seem to be a never ending process. He was in the final year of secondary school.
The students were asked to buy a book-mark for S$5 and he did not want to buy. The class teacher tried to persuade him a few times and still he refused. He was then referred to the teacher in charge of the whole cohort or perhaps it was the Assistant Principal. My son decided that he was not going to make any further donations and indirect references were made about "getting a good report" etc.

His class-mates were surprised at his resilience and many too did not want to pay but were too scared to decline.

Anyway he did not pay and finished at that premier school although the taste is a little sour. The report card was OK and enabled him to enter JC.

My wife and I decided to let him make that decision on the donation and we were quite proud that he stuck to his decision.

Photo: My old school in Ipoh. Thanks to http://www.hbp.usm.my/conservation/imagesJPG/images10/stmiciph.jpg

Now We Have a "Mat Rempit" Minister

First we had a minister proclaiming that "lawyers are crazy", then another minister came up with "PM does not want to hear the truth" from the media.
To carry on with this Malaysian tradition, we now have the Sports Minister proposing to solve the "mat rempit" problem by building race tracks in every district. That gets the cake when compared to the multi-million sports complex that is planned in London.

Now if we spent some of that money to provide some good playing fields for the public, I suggest some of the "mat rempit" problems will be reduced. Just take JB for a start. They took away a beautiful tennis court complex by the Lido beach and did not replace it. This year the only football field in town at Jalan Kebun Teh was taken over for development; again without any replacement.

I consider "Mat Rempits" to be an indicator of an anti-establishment cult and there is no justification to give them race tracks. We are trying to solve the problem at the wrong end as many of them are school drop-outs.

There is this letter in malaysiakini on what can happen when you meet a bunch of them.

Perhaps a program for "mat rempits" is possible. The Welfare Ministry would be more effective to start a rehab program for them if they survive those crazy stunts and are recovering in a hospital?

Photo: Thanks to http://www.shagadelica.net/wp-content/pictures/rempit.jpg

Thursday, October 18, 2007

This Case is But a Drop in the Ocean

While we can rejoice that a case has been won against the authorities, it is relevant to view it in the proper perspective.

According to this malaysiakini article, it is only one of the many cases where people have been held under draconian laws that permit detention without trial; and people are also held for years without being charged and found guilty of any crime.

The most prominent case of a beating was the one where a former IGP pleaded guilty to a charge of causing hurt to our former DPM. Each year, a few detainees die in police custody and the reasons given are usually glossed over.

That is why the IPCMC is so vital to provide the mechanism by which abuse by the police can be addressed in an orderly fashion.

Now we have to wait and see if the AG's office will initiate proceedings against those who were responsible for torture of a detainee. Or do they need a prompting from their political masters?

Before We Praise Singapore Too Highly....

(click image to enlarge)
Readers of my blog will know that I have a great admiration for the way Singapore has transformed itself into a bustling modern metropolis - a world class city.

However there is a blot on its record that has not been solved even years after millions of dollars were spent to upgrade the access to the exit point in Woodlands CIQ. They constructed the viaduct to allow cars and motor-bikes to bypass a major cross-road.

Since Lee Kuan Yew reads malaysiakini sometimes, here's hoping that someone from the LTA will read this article and consider my suggestions to improve the traffic flow especially during peak periods.

On Tuesday 16th October, I took the Singapore Express bus back to JB. Along the BKE, the electronic display sign read, "Jam at Woodlands" and the bus driver left the BKE and entered the road leading to the CIQ via Woodland Road,ie coming from the left of the major cross-road. There was no problem at all and no delay.

After I cleared immigration, I went down to the bus area and it was jam-packed with many factory buses and no sign of the Express bus. I guess it would have left as there was a queue about 15 long at the immigration counter.

So I decided to walk the Causeway. It took about 15 minutes but during that time only about 6 buses passed me but no Express bus. The Singapore end of the pedestrian walk is well laid out; especially the underground passage with tiled floor and the security cameras. At the Malaysian end, all the manhole covers needed maintenance or replacement.

There were no lorries at the time - about 8pm and I suspect the transport companies were having a long break.

So what is the reason for the jam at Woodlands? Sometimes it can take an hour just to travel the last 800 meters across the intersection.

The traffic police are there most times but the 2 or 3 men deployed still do not solve this long-standing traffic nightmare. I pity the cops as they are being exposed to exhaust fumes for extended periods.

I would suggest to the LTA the following:

For peak periods like 5:00pm to 8:00pm

1.All cars must enter the CIQ road using Woodlands Road, from the left
2.All lorries and buses must enter the CIQ road using the BKE
3.Motor-bikes will use the viaduct as at present.
4.No right turn into the CIQ road from Woodlands Town Centre except for public buses.

Based on the results of the above, one may be required to close the Causeway to lorries during the peak period.
The traffic police will still be needed but their tasks will be less burdensome as the traffic cross-overs between buses, lorries and cars will be drastically reduced.

Some cynics think that this jam exists since the authorities do not like the idea of Singaporeans crossing to JB for cheap petrol but I'm hoping it's just a case of a problem that needs a new idea.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Good Thing it Doesn't Rain in Space

As the nation blindly embarks on an epic adventure into space, following the Star Trek series motto of "Going Where No Malaysian Has Gone Before", it is somewhat a dampener to learn that 27 families in Sentul had their houses cleaned out courtesy of the Works Ministry that is making changes to a RM750m project that began in 2005.

Now the 2-foot culverts that have been installed are going to be replaced with 10-foot culverts. If you consider that the cross-section area of a culvert is the square of the radius, it looks as if the drainage capacity is being increased by 25 times. Don't they use computers to do such drainage analysis in the first place?

Of course the variation orders for this project has also gone up a few notches.

Malaysian Joke..When is a Panel Not a Panel?

I don't know a witty answer but the one appointed by the authorities to probe the authenticity of the infamous video seems to be more a feet-dragging PR exercise and a rather ineffective one at that.

According to an article from malaysiakini, the panel has met only once and that to profoundly declare that it had "no authority" to call witnesses etc. It will meet again just before the 30-day period of its "acting" expires.

I would guess that more Malaysians have found the tape more interesting than the space travel of the first Malaysian.

The latest analysis of the poll on my blog has changed little - 500 odd readers took the poll compared to the previous 300 readers but the results are still in the same order; with the least - only 1% expect the panel will be able to find the answers.

Please take the poll and also ask your friends to do likewise. I wonder if the results will change if the number reaches 1000 readers.

Now Who Wouldn't Like a Longer Holiday?

Malaysia now has the first Asean citizen to travel to space but let's not get too carried away with this feat.
Already many have argued that we spent so much money just to hitch a ride with the Soviets and of course it is only natural that our guy is space wishes he could stay longer, according to this story from malaysiakini.

Quite an understandable feeling as it must be really exhilarating to be up there and be the centre of attention among many Malaysians.

Already creative thinkers are planning to morph a space ride that was given birth to after a rather questionable arms deal into a billion ringgit enterprise under the banner cry of another "Malaysia Boleh" project.

Never mind what is the scientific rationale for such schemes. As long as we can allocate a generous budget, we will somehow find some experiments to perform in space. Publish the findings? Perhaps after some of the judges have completed their written judgements.

I suggest to our first Malaysian in space. Come back to earth and I am sure you will be selected as an MP.

Photo: Thanks to http://www.thebestlinks.com/images/thumb/d/d8/400px-Astronaut.jpg

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Do You Have that Funny Familiar Feeling?

So another tragedy has occurred, this time to a group of holidaymakers who put their trust that a boat would be seaworthy and that the authorities had done a good job to ensure the safety of passengers.

That's what you pay taxes for, don't you?
But as you read this story in malaysiakini you realise that all the laws and regulations count for zilch when many flout the rules and enforcement is lacking or non-existent.

Have the authorities become really complacent and the government only capable of "knee-jerk" reactions?

The response is always the same. Probe and findings - someone gets a slap on the wrist and life goes on untill the next tragedy.

So how many tragedies do we have to endure before you decide, "Enough is enough".
It is time to demand that a Minister resigns if a serious lapse of this nature occurs in his ministry.

That way, ministers will take their jobs more seriously and not resort to just posturing all the time. Anyone got a keris?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Before We Promote Another Visit Malaysia Year

We all agree that tourism can be a major money spinner for Malaysia given our diverse cultures, beautiful beaches and usually wonderful weather.

However during VMY2007, the following shows that we need to do more to ensure that tourists can be given proper protection and more measures are really necessary to safeguard the welfare of our visitors.

We now have a scenario where it seems it is not safe to travel by air, road or sea.
Road accidents have been a major concern in recent years and the recent case of the serious bus accident that revealed a rogue driver and also dubious road test centers show the extent of the rot that has set in.

Then we have the case of the guy who managed to evade security at KLIA and ended up in Singapore. This means that it is possible to get unto a plane to any of the hundreds of destinations that originate from Kuala Lumpur. Imagine what would have happened if such a stowaway had been detected just before a plane landed in Washington or New York?

The third case is reported in malaysiakini of how the passengers on the ill-fated ferry had to jump into the sea, even without life-jackets, or face a fiery death. I have taken the ferry to Tioman and it is usually the practice to overload such vessels - so this comes as no surprise.

The DPM has ordered a probe but I suggest a public inquiry would be more appopriate for both the KLIA breach and the ferry fire and the inquiry can look into both events togther.

It is important that people regain confidence in public transport or our plans for an expansion in tourism will surely be derailed.

Photo: Thanks to the Star

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Malaysia - Truly Confusing!

A quick glance at malaysiakini's stories for 14th October 2007 shows that Malaysia could truly be a confusing nation for foreigners.

We have the triumph of the first Malaysian to travel to space.And the story of how we will spend more millions on the second traveller.

Then there is the story of how an overloaded ferry caught fire after operating with an expired licence; killing at least 4 passengers in the process.

The next item is the lapse of security at KLIA that allowed a stowaway to get aboard a plane that flew to Singapore. Looks like the security system here is doubtful.

I am not sure which of these 2 stories is more newsworthy:

The Information Minister telling editors that the PM "does not want to hear the truth" or the "Law" Minister proclaiming that the 1000 odd lawyers are crazy. A case for a class action suit?

All these stories could be used for a dramatic stage production but would the play be a comedy, tragedy or farce?

I guess it would depend on whether you are in the mood to laugh, cry or rage.

Graphics: Thanks to http://img.tfd.com/dict/106/587098-farce.jpg

Even Before the Dust Settles.....

Two events in October were the highlights of the media and these were:

The heart transplant from a Malay donor to a Chinese girl that shows life and death is a struggle for everyone.

Malaysia's first man to travel to space that shows we still have enough resources to afford such activities.

But even before any scientific and costs evaluation has been performed on the first mission we are talking about the second mission according to this malaysiakini's report .

I find this quite irresponsible planning - perhaps there is a gold mine somewhere in the space program that has just been discovered. Another dubious tradeoff for an arms for palm oil deal?

The two prominent stories do have a connection. Heart transplants and donor programs require lots of funds to promote and to help both donor and recipient families.
That RM90m spent on the first flight could have funded vital research in Malaysia on medicine, don't you think?

Or do we really have to tolerate such wastage untill our oil runs out?

Photo: Thanks to http://www.thebestlinks.com/images/thumb/9/9a/250px-Vostok_rocket_launch.jpg

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Do Something to Make Malaysia Better TODAY...

There is a petition to the Agung being organised by an enlightened Malaysian that deserves support.

Don't just read blogs and think, "Hmmm...I agree but what to do?"
Read the petition and if you agree, do sign up.

If you don't do something for the nation, who will?

Seeking the Truth about May13?

It is a well-known fact that history books about major events like wars, riots etc will be biased towards the perpective or self-interests of the writer and one can only get a more balanced but not necessarily true version of what actually took place years ago by reading as many books as possible.

In fact if you were a player in the event, your version is already biased. So this story in malaysiakini about the Tunku's book can be useful but should not be taken as the definitive "be-all end-all" story.

All Malaysians will surely benefit from this sad episode in our history if all documents related to that incident were declassified and we allowed a panel of international historians to tell us more what happened during those bloody riots.

A Truth and Reconciliation Panel will also help to heal some old wounds and not just a self-interest group that is linked to the ruling party.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Years Past 1984 - TRUTH Hurts

I guess the news media should change their names soon if this article is true.

Just imagine that!
According to malaysiakini, the media has been directed not to report any bad or negative news as the PM is unhappy about the slew of bad news.

In future stories like the following may not see the light of day:

Auditor-General Reports
Sensational Tapes
Bodies Disposed with C4

What would be a good name for established newspapers like NST?
How about "Good News Times"?

Graphics: Thanks to http://qbs4u.co.uk/1984.jpg

Selamat Hari Raya and Drive Carefully

Here is a checklist to consider before you go on holidays.

I have a few reservations as follows:

1.Newspapers should have been cancelled a week earlier. Just mention you want to stop and not going for holidays. Can always restart when you return.

2.I prefer not to inform the police as one can never be sure how the info is used. Just consider the photos of Nurin being put on the Net.

They forgot to mention to get someone collect your mail and bills etc if you are going for an extended "balik kampong."

If your son or daughter is still a "P" driver, please supervise his or her driving as even experienced drivers can make mistakes on the highway especially changing lanes and overtaking.

Graphics: Thanks to http://cards.thestar.com.my/raya/images/big/raya08.jpg

He Did it Again.....Lee Kuan Yew's Interview and malaysiakini

While the NST focuses on the non-event of Singapore rejoining Malaysia, they forgot to mention that he cited malaysiakini as "a credible source of information".

Not bad, coming from the most renowned political leader in Asia.
Some cynics will think that the NST is trying to divert attention from the tapes scandal as anything to do with Singapore usually raises a stink.

You can read the full interview here.

Let's hope malaysiakini keeps up high standards.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Sky's the Limit but Let's Not Forget More Basic Things

All Malaysians should feel a sense of pride that we can afford to send a Malaysian to space and I hope he makes a safe return to earth.

With money one can afford to do many things and the recent movie "City Hall" shown on Astro showed that even judges can be bought.

So let's come back to earth and see what Malaysians are thinking about the video tape that is still the center of many articles and letters.This article in malaysiakini gives a good critique of the developments to date.

Based on the poll that was conducted on my blog that posed the question,
"What is Your Reaction to the Video on the Judges Scandal?"
a total of 358 readers took the trouble to state their opinion.

Here are the results:

220 readers or 61% chose "We Need a Royal Commission"

73 readers or 20% chose "The Chief Justice Should Be Brought Before a Tribunal"

47 readers or 13% picked "The Authorities Will Just Ignore the Findings"

16 readers or 4% picked "The tape is a fake"

2 readers or 1% picked "The Independent Panel will Find the Answers"

Do the poll results surprise you? Why waste time and energy on a panel that lacks authority and credibility?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Time to Check on Recruiting Agents and their Cohorts

This malaysiakini story is really tragic and shows how people will manipulate policies to maximise profits and leave the authorities the headache of deporting the unwanted workers.

The title says it all."Flawed policy results in flood of migrant workers".
Just imagine that.
According to the article,Tenaganita's "Fernandez said the source of the current crisis is a move by the government to allow some 200 agents to import 300,000 Bangladeshi workers this year."

Obviously some agents have been creating phantom jobs and just getting workers in so that they can earn some of the high fees that the workers fork out to get their papers.

A figure of US$3637 was mentioned as fees paid for a supervisor's post and this is about RM12,700.
If we take an average of RM10,000 per worker for easier calculations, 300,000 workers equates to RM3,000,000,000. It is a three billion ringgit business.

It is good that the authorities have recently imposed a freeze on workers from Bengladesh and a more comprehensive plan needs to be properly established.

For a start, companies should be allowed to apply directly for workers and there could be an insurance scheme to compensate workers who are denied jobs after they arrive in Malaysia.

This means that the jobs must be real and not a fiction to allow the agent to simply earn the fees. Perhaps 50% of the agents' fees should be held in trust by the government for at least 3 months or untill the worker is properly employed.

We should not allow such people to tarnish the country's name and image.

Photo: Thanks to http://murasakisikivu.at.infoseek.co.jp/fot/sharks013.jpg

Is SYABAS a Profiteer or Consumers Not Smart?

malaysiakini has this story about SYABAS collecting fees of RM50 each to reconnect water consumers whose supply has been disconnected for non-payment of water bills.

For some households RM50 is equivalent to a week's shopping bill for the family and RM50 does seem like too high a fee for a task that does not take more than 15 minutes of a plumber's time. The reconnection fee should be about RM20 to RM25 each as the subcontractor does not come out to do one household but perhaps 15 to 20 meters each day.

The difference in reconnecting is based on ease of work.
Ground floor will cost RM20 while above ground floor is RM25.

Consumers too should get their priorities right.Paying the water and electricity bills should rank higher than buying toys or McDonalds for the kids.

Some planning is also necessary if you are going away for a few months and you should either pay in advance or get someone to pay the bill for you.

As for those staying in flats, the laws should be amended so that each occupier has a separate account and not dependent on the management committee to settle the account.

The numbers being disconnected are staggering:
More than 500,000 consumers were penalised during the last 2 years in KL, Selangor and Putrajaya.

I daresay it surely reflects the struggle that many homes have to cope with the escalating costs of ordinary living. Should I say,
"Need to Change our Lifestyles?"

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

EPF Conflict of Interest?

It seems that the EPF has not stopped the practice of being the lender of last resort for companies that are in financial difficulties; or rather helping the shareholders of such companies with the use of public funds.

According to this malaysiakini report it has to reduce its shareholdings from 82% to 35% by the first quarter of 2008 to meet Bank Negara rules.

EPF members should be asking why the EPF bought more than the 35% limit and now has to sell off more than 47% perhaps at a discount?

The EPF regulations should be more strictly enforced so that fund managers are not permitted to engage in such speculative activities.

And members should take note of this deal so that no monies are lost in the transactions.

It is quite easy to end up in a situation similar to the Mv Augusta scenario.

Still Pondering Nuclear Energy?

Readers to my first year's blogging will know I have written a few articles against operating a nuclear power plant in Malaysia.

The primary reason is that we have a very poor attitude towards good maintenance. Perhaps we can blame it on the mild climate and our abundant resources that things get put off untill they fail, following the old adage,
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Maybe they should study the Malaysian genes to check if we have a DNA profile that abhors maintenance.

Imagine if we had a nuclear power plant and after a disaster, the CEO comes up with the pathetic excuse like,
"We had the heaviest rain in 20 years and the pumps to remove the water could not operate as the intake was choked with rubbish".

If the department in charge of controlling all the companies using radioactive material cannot do a simple task of ensuring its own building is properly maintained, how confident are you that it will be able to enforce the strict regime of monitoring a complex operation like a nuclear power plant?

Let's not even think of a nuclear power plant for Malaysia for at least another 20 years.

Photo: Thanks to New Straits Times

Sunday, October 7, 2007

SYABAS! Gerakan is Showing the Way....

There are two good points that have emerged from the Gerakan Conference as described in this article from malaysiakini.
The first was the call for the formation of the BN Party wherein a new party would be formed to enable Malaysia to move away from race-based politics while the second was to call for a public inquiry into the "Judge fixing" tape that strikes at the very soul of the nation.

In fact I wrote this article last year in which I suggested how a BN Party could operate to provide a safe mechanism for ALL moderate Malaysians to encourage the change to less racist politics.

This arrangement will also enable the BN to retain control and give some breathing space for race-based parties to be finally replaced.

But it will take lots of moral courage and sincerity from the top leadership.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Update on the Independent Panel

It must be shocking for many Malaysians that those who revealed the tape on the "Fixing of Judicial Appointments" are now being threatened by the ACA to disclose their source or face action under Section 58 of the Anti-Corruption Act 1997.

Perhaps malayskini's interesting article would provide a more appropriate check on whether the contents of the tape are verifiable or not and if there is a probability that indeed the person in the tape was not making up a tall tale?

In fact those who are familiar with "the actor" would be able to recognise the voice and I am sure the ACA officers would be able to make a good conclusion. To verify the voice, all that is needed is a scientific voice analysis and then they can probe the other persons mentioned in the tape with the use of Section 58 on the "actor" and not those who are simply trying to report a crime to the authorities.

If you check on the results of MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 30 that poses the question,
"What is Your Reaction to the Video on the Judges Scandal?"
out of 300+ respondents only 1 person chose,
"The Independent Panel will Find the Answers"

This is not a legal argument but I am sure if the authorities want to solve this crisis, they certainly have enough powers. The question is,
"Do they have the moral courage?"

Thursday, October 4, 2007

No Power = No Authority = No Results!

The story of the damning video clip implicating the authorities and judges in the fixing of appointments is not far from most newspapers today but this headline from malaysiakini says it all.

"Haidar: We have no power" Of course there is an open invitation to all and sundry to appear before the panel but you have to give all your particulars beforehand and no one know how many interested parties will want to check you out before your schedule to speak up.

In an era where the IPCMC is still being delayed after more than 2 years, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out the open invitation to come forward is not going to be taken up by many.

If one observes the manner in which people linked to the tape have been asked to tea at police HQ instead of sending the tape for voice identification analysis, the independent panel is perceived by many (just look at the results in the poll-left column) to be just that.

If fact the panel is so independent they may as well conduct their hearings in space and keep our first Malaysian astronaut company!

Now that will make news headlines.
"Malaysian panel conducts inquiry from outer space."

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

How to Alleviate 10% Toll Increases?

FOMCA is fighting hard to get the proposed toll increases stopped and so far the DPM has mentioned there will be no increase this December as most likely the General Elections will be held sometime soon and the ruling party realises that a toll increase will mean the loss of some seats.

Apart from buying shares in the toll companies on the KLSE, there is little that motorists can do but grin and bear it or as the DPM once mentioned, "Change your Lifestyle."

So this simple cartoon is to show you just that.

(double-click image to enlarge)

Another Calamity, Another Whitewash, so What's New in Malaysia?

The latest disclosure on the reason for the collapse of the beams tells little on what really happened.

Perhaps the real reason is so unbelievable that it is better to gloss over the incident and hope the public will soon forget. After all, no one got killed and so why should I be getting so uptight?

Only the "MHA and several other agencies" are named in the NST story so one can only guess the depth of the inquiry that came up with so few details.

The story mentions that
"The contractor had detected a fault when laying the 40-tonne beams, one of which failed to settle onto a rubber cushion, in the incident at 11.40pm.

“As the contractor was attempting to rectify the fault, the eighth beam being laid slipped and fell, dragging down the remaining beams,” he said at the launch of the road safety campaign, in conjunction with the Hari Raya holidays, at the Sungai Buloh overhead rest area along the North-South Expressway (NSE)."

An earlier story mentioned that the eight beams were tied together by wire and the falling of one beam caused the other seven to follow in the "Domino effect".

If you take a good look at the photo, you will see the beams are properly installed in the top right corner; with the height standing tall.
Now if you look at the collapsed beams, they are all neatly lying on the ground; all 90 degrees turned with respect to the properly installed beams.

These eight collapsed beams probably formed the other side of the dual carriageway and maybe were being installed by a different set of crane operators and supervisors and they laid the first seven beams wrongly; ie on its side instead of vertical and this means the strength of the beam becomes many times weaker than when placed vertically as those properly installed in the photo.

So when the time came for the eight beam to be placed, there was not enough room on the rubber cushion for it.

No details are given on what they actually did to rectify the problem but I wonder when the beams were tied together. Maybe the crane operator was trying to lift all eight beams at one go? That's a scary thought but why else would the eight beams be tied together?

Just like the Nuri helicopter probe, this internal inquiry produces more questions that answers.

Maybe they should divert traffic in future projects so that this type of incident is not repeated.
And today's letter in the Press shows how mindful some companies are of public safety.

Photo: Thanks to New Straits Times

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Excitement in the Syariah Courts?

They say one must dress appropriately when going for job interviews etc so that people can be influenced by your clothes.

Maybe it's my imagination but is that not a lot of cleavage to be on display?
Perhaps it was to prove to the judges that her motherly instincts were intact or what?

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy looking at beautiful women but this picture is surely not consistent with the requirements of Islamic dress.

In some stupid departments, they list out the items that will not be tolerated like sleeveless tees for women etc.
I am surprised that this dress was allowed into the Syariah courts.

Photo: Thanks to New Straits Times

Monday, October 1, 2007

Falling Beams - Looks Like They Were Placed Wrongly....

If you read my earlier post on the collapsed beams, please go back and examine the photo carefully.

You will notice the crane picking up a section of the broken beam and if you check carefully, the beam is of rectangular section with the height about 2 to 3 times the width.

Beams are designed to carry loads and usually placed so that height is vertical as this makes better use of the property of the beam called the "Area Moment Of Inertia" that is the ability to resist bending.

But the photo shows all the beams appear to have been placed wrongly unless they were all turned 90 degrees after the collapse.

This incident shows the hoisting contractor had not been given proper detailed instructions on how the beams should have been handled or placed.

malaysiakini's Powerful Influence

It was a lazy Sunday afternoon and so I decided to amuse myself.

We all know that malaysiakini has been a thorn for many leaders as it strives to help reform society and many consider it to be the most independent source of news, daring to print what many editors fear to put in the papers as they are controlled by different laws and also under the control of the main political parties.

I guess the title of my Sunday article, "Disappointed with this Story from malaysiakini" must have been sufficient to tease readers to discover how malaysiakini may have tripped up.

The results look good for any advertiser or marketing campaign as the graph shows. I guess they would have been too types of respondents:

The loyal supporters of malaysiakini who wanted to support the company and
those who are waiting for the company to fail.

Keep up the good work, malaysiakini!

Graphics: from MalaysiaWatch3