Monday, December 24, 2007

FIGURES DON’T TELL REAL STORY (2)

I write in response to “Numbers tell success story of Indians?” (NST,Dec 10) and no “No truth Indians are the poorest in the country?” (NST,Dec 12).

When studies are presented to the public, they must stand up to scrutiny.

I am not a politician, a mathematician or even a statistician. Maybe other Malaysians are more enlightened and I may be wrong but to me the figures quoted do not tally as the statistical methodology seems to be flawed.

The slant of a study can be used to justify any claim. As a simple example, I can say that one out of 10 Malaysians are killed by an elephant.

All I have to do is to find that one unfortunate Malaysian and I have justified my claim.

The population of Malaysia is about 28 million. We are comparing three populations with a vast difference in numbers-Bumiputera 64 per cent (17,920,000), Chinese 24 per cent (6,720,000), and Indians eight per cent (2,240,000).

By convention, all Malays are Bumiputera but not all Bumiputeras are Malays.

In the Malaysian context, the term Bumiputer embraces ethnics Malays plus other indigenous ethnic groups such as the Orang Asli and tribal people in Sabah and Sarawak.

We all know that the indigenous groups have the lowest income and highest rate of unemployment, and this naturally skews the mean household income to the negative.

To make the mean household income of the three main races more relevant, then, the Malays should not be lumped together with the indigenous groups.

Furthermore, the larger the population and with varying reproductive rates, the more the number of unemployable people, - children, students and housewives.

Naturally, then, on paper, wealth distributed among 17 million will be less than wealth divided among two million.

As far as income and population is concerned, should we be using the mean or median values?
The mean is calculated by adding together all the studied values and then divided by the number of values. The data is value only if it is symmetrically distributed but it can be thrown out by a few extreme values.

Ananda Krishnan of Maxis is the third wealthiest man in southeast Asia with a fortune estimated to be worth RM30 billion and other Indian multi-millionaires do not represent the majority of the Indians population.

If they are part of the data, then the study is already skewed.

The median is the middle value – 50 per cent of values is above it and 50 per cent below it. So in an unsymmetrical data, as above, this form of average gives a better ideas of any general tendency.

Different races also have a tendency to gravitate towards different professions which pay different incomes.

If we want to continue using a mean household income as a yardstick of prosperity for the three main races, then we must compare the total income accrued in the selected professions divided by the same number of households.

At the end of the day, we are distracted by superficialities. Poverty is no respecter of race, religion or locality (i.e urban or rural) and all those suffering need the government’s help.

F.S MALHI, Ipoh.

NEWS STRAITS TIMES
Thursday, December 20, 2007

FIGURES DON’T TELL REAL STORY (1)

Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu’s success story of Indians (“Numbers tell success story of Indians”-NST, Dec 10) in Malaysia came as a surprise to most of us, particularly the figures he quoted.
It looks too good to be true.

He pointed out that the average monthly household income of Indian families was now RM3,456 compared with the national average of RM3,022.

I wonder where he came up with such generous figures.

He claimed that in the country’s history, 60 per cent of Indians lived and worked in the estates but now the figure is reversed to 80 per cent concentrated in urban areas.

A recent visit to Penang has convinced me that there are still a good number of Indians poor and homeless in George Town.

Come sunset, they suddenly appear from nowhere and take on the role of jaga kereta (touts) to earn extra income. Fearing that my car might be scratched, I was forced to part with a ringgit.

At night, you can see the homeless sleeping along the five-foot path in front of shophouses which have been closed for the night.

Now the question is whether Samy Vellu can include this poor souls who have take to eke a living in this manner with just the roof of the shophouse over their heads as being Indians who are nowadays concentrated in urban centres?

Let us no pretend life is not easy to them. With few skills and high rate of unemployment (after being dislodged from life in the rubber estates), being urbanised can be quite meaningless for them.

Sad to say the majority of Indians are among the poorest in the country with, of course, a few exceptions where a small fraction comes from the wealthy group.

TUNKU YUSUF JEWA, Kota Baru

BREWERY COMES TO AID OF CHINESE SCHOOLS

Petaling Jaya: Chinese schools in the country have been getting a helping hand from Guinness Anchor Bhd (GAB).

Since 1994 to the middle of this year, the company has raised close to RM180 million which benefited 367 Chinese schools and helped 1,300 students through university.

“We see Chinese schools as providing mainstream education, especially since only two per cent Chinese students are enrolled in national schools. And we know the importance the Chinese community places on education,” said GAB finance director Low Teng Lum.

Low said the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes not only benefited the Chinese community but also over 60,000 non Chinese students who were enrolled in these schools.

So far, GAB had helped to provide better school facilities, including school halls, additional classrooms and computers.

More importantly, it has also helped students obtain a university education, said Low.

Low said the CSR programmes went beyond merely donating money.

“Anyone with money can donate. But to us, it is a means to allow the community, especially the grassroots, to empower themselves, and at the same time, enable our dealers, trade partners and even coffee shop owners to come together for a good cause,” he said.

GAB has two main fundraising projects known as the Tiger Sin Chew Chinese Education Charity Concert and the Guinness Torch Fund.

The charity concert is a yearly event where GAB helps to fund and organise the concert by bringing in local and foreign artistes to perform.

Schools in need of funds can apply to be part of the charity concert and if selected, they will be tasked marketing the concert and selling tickets. The funds are then channelled to respective schools.

The Guinness Torch Fund, meanwhile, is a scholarship fund.

NEWS STRAITS TIMES.
Friday, December 21, 2007.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Economics for Dummies


Posted by helenism under Economics, Jokes

The following is a very funny email fwd. You can find a similar one with some slight variations on: http://bovination.com/cows.jsp and I’m sure other drafts can be found on the web too…

DISCLAIMER: *Assign no responsibility to me for the views herein except for the addition of Eritrean Economics*

TRADITIONAL ECONOMICSYou have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies and the economy grows. You retire on the income.

KENYAN ECONOMICS You have two cows. You eat both of them. You blame Indians for shortages. You ask the European Union to give another two cows to eat.

INDIAN ECONOMICS You have two cows. You worship them.

PAKISTAN ECONOMICS You don’t have any cows. You claim that the Indian cows belong to you. You ask the US for financial aid, China for military aid, British for Warplanes, Italy for machines, Germany for technology, French for submarines, Switzerland for loans, Russia for drugs Japan for equipment. You buy the cows with all this and claim exploitation by the world.

AMERICAN ECONOMICS You have two cows. You sell one and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. You profess surprise when the cow drops dead. You put the blame on some nation with cows & naturally that nation will be a danger to mankind. You wage a war to save the world and grab the cows.

MEXICAN ECONOMICS You have two cows Both try to cross to the US One cow drowns The other cow produces for the US.

ETHIOPIAN ECONOMICS You have two cows One starves to death. The government takes the other cow and slaughters it Half the meat is fed to the soldiers fighting Eritrea The other half is sold to buy bullets for use on democracy protesters.

ERITREAN ECONOMICS - WE DON’T WANT YOUR COWS! We will wait until border demarcation to raise and slaughter our own.

FRENCH ECONOMICS You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.

GERMAN ECONOMICS You have two cows. You re-engineer them so that they live for 100 years, eat once a month and milk themselves.

BRITISH ECONOMICS You have two cows. They are both mad cows.

ITALIAN ECONOMICS You have two cows. You don’t know where they are. You break for lunch.

SWISS ECONOMICS You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you. You charge others for storing them.

JAPANESE ECONOMICS You have two cows. You redesign them so that they are 1/10TH the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create cute cartoon cow images called Cowkimon and market them worldwide.

RUSSIAN ECONOMICS You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 17 cows. You give up counting and open another bottle of vodka.

CHINESE ECONOMICS You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim full employment, high bovine productivity and arrest anyone reporting the actual numbers.

SPANISH ECONOMICS You have two cows. You sell them to buy a specially bred Spanish bull. The bull gets killed in a “corrida de toros” in Seville. The “matador” becomes famous and the bull’s head ends up in display in some traditional tapas bar in Andalusia for the amusement of tourists.

TAIWANESE ECONOMICS You have two cows. You send a spy to Japan to try copy their high-tech chip milking strategy. It doesn’t work so kill the cows and sell all the meat to be eaten at some Taipei night market. You produce thousands of fake Cowkimon merchandise and sell it at the above-mentioned night market.

MALAYSIAN ECONOMICS You have two cows. You draft the 9th Malaysian Plan with a long-term strategy to turn Malaysia into the leading producer of milk in the region. The Plan gets stuck in bureaucracy going from one Ministry to the other. By the time the Plan reaches government approval, Singapore has managed to buy the cows off the Malaysians and has become the main producer and exporter of milk in the South East Asia region.

NIGERIAN ECONOMICS You have two cows You send an e-mail to all Yahoo! and Hotmail users explaining that you have 10 cows that you’ve inherited but cannot access. You request an advance fee of 3 cows in order to get the 10 cows and promise a return of 5 cows. It is discovered you never had any cows to start off with.

NEW ZEALAND ECONOMICS You have two cows. Your sheep are jealous.

FINNISH ECONOMICS You have two cows You sell one cow to buy the newest Nokia phone The government takes the other cow in payment for taxes for selling a cow for profit.

CANADIAN ECONOMICS You have two cows You milk one in French, one in English The French one now wishes to split, the English one whines about it.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A TALE OF TWO CITIES

This two news appeared in the News Straits Times December 13, 2007. I leave you to make your own conclusion.

IN MALAYSIA (KOTA KINABALU)



EX-MINISTER FILES APPEAL AGAINST DEITY STATUE RULING



Kota Kinabalu: Eight months after his shocking resignation from the Sabah cabinet, Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat yesterday filed an appeal at the High Court registry here against the Government’s decision to rescind its approval for the construction of the “Goddess of the Sea” deity statue at his hometown of Kudat.

Chong, 59, who was deputy chief minister when he left the cabinet, filed the appeal in his capacity as Kudat Thean Hou Charitable Foundation chairman and named the Kudat Town Board and Central Town and Country Planning Board at the state Ministry of Local Government and Housing as first and second respondents, respectively.

The appeal was filed through his lawyer Ansari Abdullah, who is the Parti Keadilan Rakyat Sabah chief.

Ansari said approval for the statue’s construction was given on Feb 8 last year but was withdrawn by the Kudat Town Board a month ago on Nov 15, prompting Chong to file appeal under Section 16 of the Town and Country Planning Ordinance.

In an affidavit supporting the appeal, Chong who is Tanjung Kapur assemblyman, said the Foundation was not given an opportunity to be heard after the withdrawal order was made by the Kudat Town Board following various directives from the chief minister, Central Town and Country Planning Board and the mufti of Sabah.



IN INDONESIA ( MANADO, NORTH SULAWESI)



TALLEST JESUS STATUE GRACES INDONESIAN CITY



Jakarta: A property developer has built what may be Asia’s tallest statue of Jesus Christ Christian region of this predominantly Muslim nation.

Officials and Christian leaders inaugurated the 30-metre high statue last week in Manado city, in the mainly Christian province of North Sulawesi.

The white-robed Jesus with upraised hands stands on a 32-metre high hill in a residential estate built by Ciputra, a property company named after its founder.

Ciputra, 76, was recently ranked as one of Indonesia‘s wealthiest men with a personal fortune estimated at US$335 million (RM1.2 billion).

An architect by training, he spent his childhood in Manado and has built the statue as a token of gratitude for his success, said Yuliarso Christono, a company estate design manager.

“He lived a simple life as a child in North Sulawesi and experienced a hard life under Dutch occupation. Now he is successful,” Christono said.

He said the statue, made of metal fibre and steel, tallest in Asia and this had been confirmed by the Indonesian Museum of Records.

The world’s tallest is the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, which is stands 39.6 metres tall and overlooks the city.

The giant Jesus Christ statue in the town
of Manado, Indonesia.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Appeal Court Nullifies Public Order Act

From Funso Muraina and Chuks Okocha in Abuja, 12.12.2007

The Court of Appeal in Abuja yesterday put to rest the controversy surrounding public procession over whether or not there is a need for police permit.

The court said it was no longer necessary to obtain permit before embarking on any assembly.

In its judgment, the appellate court presided over by Justice Danladi Mohammad held that such police approval infringed on the fundamental human rights provided for in the 1999 Constitution.

“The provision of the Act is unnecessary. We are in democracy and Nigeria has joined the league of civilised societies,'' Justice Olufunmilayo Adekeye who read the lead judgment said.

Justice Adekeye said it was wrong to continue to rely on the colonial method of suppressing people from exercising and enjoying their rights under the guise of Public Order Act.

The lead counsel to the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), Mr. Femi Falana, had filed a suit on September 21, 2003, condemning the police for disrupting the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) rally at Kano with tear-gas.

The panel gave the judgment in an appeal by the Federal Government against the decision of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Justice Anwuri Chikere of the High Hourt had in 2005 nullified the Act on the ground that it was obsolete and a neo-colonialist rule.

Dissatisfied with the decision of the lower court, the Attorney General of the Federation and the Nigerian Police Force had filed an appeal.

The plaintiffs had contended that the Federal Government was using the Act to victimise and terrorise opposition.

CNPP had also alleged that the Act was used by the PDP to suppress the opposition.

Justice Chikere also issued an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Inspector General of Police (IGP) from preventing aggrieved citizens of Nigeria including the plaintiffs from organising or convening peaceful assemblies, meetings and rallies against unpopular government policies.

According to the presiding judge, the court held that the provisions of the Public Order Act (Cap 382) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (1990) were in conflict with the provision of Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution.

The CNPP had on April 2, 2004 written to the Federal Capital Territory Police Commissioner, Mr. Emmanuel Adebayo, for a permit in line with the provisions of the Public Order Act, (Cap 382) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990 which required the issuance of police permit to any group wishing to embark on rally.

They wrote the letter sequel to a proposed mass rally by the parties in protest against the 2003 general elections.

Section 1 of the Act made it mandatory for a police permit to be procured before embarking on a rally.

After the controversial Kano rally, the CNPP filed a suit at a Federal High Court in Abuja challenging the constitutionality of the Act.

The parties through their lawyer, Falana, had filed the suit on February 9, 2004 at the Federal High Court, Abuja asking the court to restrain the Federal Government from preventing their members and any aggrieved citizens from holding rallies in any part of Nigeria.

They asked the court to declare that the requirement of police permit for the holding of rallies was illegal and unconstitutional.

The parties posted the following questions for the court to answer.

Whether police permit or any authority was required for holding rally or procession in any part of the Federal Republic.

Secondly, the parties wanted to know whether the provisions of the Public Order Act which prohibits the holding of rallies or processions without a police permit are not illegal and unconstitutional by virtue of Article 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap 10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria of Nigeria, 1990.

The parties urged the court to declare that the provisions of the Act which required police permit or any other authority for the holding of rallies or processions in any part of Nigeria was illegal and unconstitutional as they contravene section 40 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement Act.)

They sought a declaration that the Inspector General of Police was not competent under the Public Order Act or under any law whatsoever to issue or grant permit for the holding of rallies in any part of Nigeria.

In the affidavit attached to the writ, which was sworn to by Maxi Okwu, the General Secretary of the CNPP, the parties stated that the IGP prevented them from staging a peaceful rally on May 29, 2003.

He averred that the solidarity rally organised by the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in Kano, Kano State on September 22, 2003, was disrupted by the police on the ground that no police permit was obtained.

“That in the course of disrupting the rally the police tear gassed the crowd and the ANPP leaders including Dr. Chuba Okadigbo who died barely 24 hours later,” Okwu said.Government in defending the suit filed no counter affidavit as they came to court asking that the entire suit be dismissed.

The high court judge refused and heard the matter. She not only answered the two fundamental questions in favour of the political parties, she also granted all the prayers sought.

The plaintiff political parties in the case include ANPP, National Conscience Party (NCP), Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), National Democratic Party (NDP), Democratic Alternative (DA), APGA, PAC, Peoples Salvation Party PSP), United Nigeria Peoples Party (UNPP), MDJ and Community Party of Nigeria (CPN).

Reacting to the judgment, the CNPP commended the judiciary for consigning the Public Order Act to the dustbin of history.

The Director of Publicity of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Maxi Okwu and the Assistant National Legal Adviser, All Nigeria Peoples Party, Mr. Enobong Ete, said the ruling was a victory for democracy. Okwu said the judgment was a landmark in the history of the country as the police had killed many Nigerians during the military era and under the present democratic dispensation, while attempting to disrupt peaceful assembly.

“I commend Justice Chikere for her courage and this landmark judgment which is a victory for democracy.

“In fact, the ruling is a milestone in our politics because Nigerians will no longer be under the ubiquitous control of the police, which had for so long trampled on their right to peaceful assembly under Section 40 of the constitution.

“The law is a colonial heritage, which should not be part of our statute books because the colonial masters used it to checkmate anti-colonial struggles of early nationalists,” he said.

Ete, who is also the Editor-in Chief of Nigeria Labour Law, said, “The judgment marks a new dawn for democracy in Nigeria. This has put paid to abuses of the rights of Nigerians by the police who demand that permit be obtained from them before any rally is carried out.”

He regretted that the court pronouncement could not come before the 2003 Kano rally, where the police disrupted it with teargas, which allegedly led to the death of Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, who was ANPP’s presidential running mate.

The CNPP said the judgment had reaffirmed the spirit and letters of Sections 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution and Sections 9 and 11 of African Charter on Peoples Rights, which upheld inalienable right of freedom of expression and association.

According to the group, “In this instance, our commendation goes to the Appeal Court, Abuja, for upholding and reaffirming the earlier judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by Hon. Justice Anwuli Chikere on 25th June 2004; declaring police permit illegal and expunging all provisions relating to obtaining police permit for peaceful assembly.

“By this historic judgment, one of the obnoxious relics of colonialism, the Public Order Act has been consigned to the dustbin of history. Our democracy is the greatest beneficiary of this judgment, for freedom of expression and assembly are core ingredients of democracy.

“CNPP is vindicated for the fact that with the judgment, Nigeria has joined other democratic nations to exercise the fundamental and inalienable rights of liberty and freedom. In other words, Nigerians can peacefully protest unpopular government policies without police permit.

“Most importantly, the judgment has demonstrated that tyranny can only reign if patriots keep quiet in the face of tyranny. Hence, freedom and liberty corollary by this judgment was earned by the commitment and devotion of CNPP leadership.”

Source: Thisday Online

http://www.thisdayonline.com/nview.php?id=97726

Nigeria: Appeal Court Voids Public Order Act

Vanguard (Lagos)

11December2007

Posted to the web 12 December 2007

Ise-OluwaIgeLagos

A THREE MAN panel of the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, yesterday, dismissed an appeal by the Inspector-General of Police seeking to reverse a court's verdict voiding the Public Order Act requiring Nigerians to obtain police permit before embarking on protest rallies against unpopular government's policies.

The court said the decision by the trial high court was okay and must not be disturbed.

Presiding judge of the Court of Appeal panel which delivered judgment in the case yesterday, Justice Rabiu Danladi Muhammad, said the offensive provision of the Public Order Act requiring Nigerians to procure police permit before holding rallies was not only barbaric but also alien to the nation's democracy.

"The Inspector-General of Police has no right to make laws. The IGP should be divested of the powers of giving permit to people before they can stage rallies.

"This is a democracy. Nigeria has joined the league of civilised nations and as such, no individual or group requires a police permit or approval to hold rallies and peaceful assembly.

"This is because the provision of the Act impinges on the fundamental rights of Nigerians as provided for in the 1999 constitution," he said.

Vanguard recalls that a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, had, about two years ago, voided the controversial Public Order Act which requires Nigerians to procure police permit before protesting against inimical policies of governments through peaceful rallies.

The high court judge, Justice Anwuli Chikere, who nullified the Act while giving judgment in a suit initiated by 12 political parties in Nigeria against the Federal Government to challenge the Act held that the law was both illegal and unconstitutional.

Said the judge: "The Public Order Act, as it is, has outlived its usefulness and since it is against the provision of the constitution, I hereby declare it null and void."

Besides, the high court judge also issued an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Inspector-General of Police, his agents, privies and servants from preventing aggrieved citizens of Nigeria including the plaintiffs from organising or convening peaceful assemblies, meetings and rallies against unpopular government policies.

Specifically, the court held that the provisions of the Public Order Act (Cap 382) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (1990) were in conflict with the provision of section 40 of the 1999 Constitution.

The said Public Order Act provides that any group of Nigerians willing to stage or hold public rallies either in commemoration of a particular event or to protest an unpopular policies of the government of the day must obtain the permission of the state governor of the state where the rally is to be held.

The governor has the statutory power to delegate the power of granting the permit to the commissioner of police in his state or any most senior police officer in the state in the event the commissioner of police is not available at the time. The position of the state governor on such permit is said to be final.

The said Public Order Act is said to be in conflict with section 40 of the 1999 Constitution which provides that "every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons and in particular, he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests."

Commending the judgment at the time, Mr Adesina Oke, who represented the political parties with Mr Femi Falana said: "We commend your courage in giving this epochal judgment. This is the type of verdict that could help democracy in Nigeria to grow.

"This ruling is an attestation to the fact that the judiciary is waxing stronger. It will go a long way to boost the image of the judiciary.

"This is a very courageous verdict. Now Nigerians can peacefully demonstrate against any inimical policies of the government of the day.

They can also gather together to discuss without fear or intimidation or queuing up for police permit or the fiat of the governor before holding any rally.

Although the immediate past Inspector-General of Police, Mr Sunday Ehindero, had said he would comply with the court's judgment until set aside, he said he was of the view that the appellate court would upturn it. But rather than upturning it, the appeal court, yesterday, affirmed the decision of the trial court.

The background of the case is that 12 political parties through their lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, had approached the registry of the Federal High Court in Abuja on February 9, 2004 with an originating summons, asking the court to determine two fundamental cum constitutional questions including:

Whether police permit or any authority is required for holding a rally or procession in any part of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ;

Whether the provisions of the Public Order Act (Cap 382) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 which prohibit the holding of rallies or processions without a police permit are not illegal and unconstitutional having regard to section of the 1999 constitution and Article 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap 10), Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

The Federal Government was represented in the case by the Director of Civil Litigation, Chief Wole Aina.

The plaintiff political parties in the case included ANPP, National Conscience Party, People's Redemption Party, National Democratic Party, Democratic Alternative, APGA, PAC, People's Salvation Party, United Nigeria People's Party, MDJ and Community Party of Nigeria.

Source : allAfrica.com

http://allafrica.com/stories/200712120267.html

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Truly Malaysia

Category: News
Posted by: raja petra

Editorial Jakarta Post
Although the ongoing anti-government movements in Malaysia are still at a very preliminary stage, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has threatened to impose the much feared and draconian Internal Security Act against those who still defy his warnings to cease street demonstrations.
The threat to jail protesters for an indefinite period of time seems to have worked, at least for the time being, because the number of street demonstrations has sharply declined. But the prime minister needs to remember that demands for justice, more freedom and more political and economic equality cannot be silenced just by throwing more people into prisons.
PM Badawi and the ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO) need to remember that as long as the roots of discontent exist anti-government movements will not subside.
The experience of Soeharto before his fall in May 1998 showed there was a point where people lost their fear of the iron-fist man and did not care anymore about his brutal responses to their protests.
It is clear the current situation in Malaysia today is very different from what Indonesian faced nine years ago, especially in terms of economic conditions. In 1998, Indonesia's economy was on the brink of disaster, while Malaysia's economy today is relatively healthy. But as its economy shows declining growth amid soaring oil prices, many people have begun to feel the heat.
The attitude of many Malaysian officials in responding to the street demonstrations is similar to the attitude of Indonesian officials in 1998. They point their finger at "third parties", "western countries" or "irresponsible press" creating the political unrest. They are reluctant to accept the street facts, because they have been too long in power, enjoying all privileges.
As its constitution is perceived by the minority as discriminatory against non-Malays and non-Muslims, more Malaysians now are demanding real equalities. Sixty percent of the 26 million population is Malay -- synonymous with Muslim according to the constitution -- while the rest are Chinese, Indian and other ethnicities.
Badawi should demonstrate his strong leadership as the country prepares for an early election, because he has not been able to fully control the ruling party. Many Muslims in his ruling party are increasingly impatient with Badawi because they think things were better in Malaysia before Mahathir Mohamad handed over power to Badawi in 2003.
Mahathir is widely regarded as much more protective of Malays than his successor is. Many Malaysians perhaps forget that Mahathir left many fundamentals problems -- from an ailing economy to corruption -- for Badawi. The fact the succession from Mahathir to Badawi was not conducted by fully democratic means also created friction among the elites and dissatisfaction among the people.
The Malaysian government needs to be more sensitive in listening to the aspirations of its people. Defensive attitudes -- such as blaming others, probably including this newspaper -- will not be helpful at all.
It is time now to honestly listen to criticism from citizens. Putting anti-government activists in jail is only a very short-term solution. PM Badawi needs to show he is the prime minister of all Malaysian citizens no matter their ethnic or religious background.

Source : Malaysia Today
www.malaysiatoday.com

Friday, December 07, 2007

ANOTHER BRAVE VOICE SPEAKS!

When everyone is quick to play the race card and miss the trees for the forest, it’s good to know there are still voices of the brave. Datuk Zaid Ibrahima lawyer and UMNO M.P for Kota Bahru said in today’s The Sun (06.12.2007) :-

“The government should manage demonstrations properly and not use force, as this will not help to solve the real problems at hand, said Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.

Zaid, the Barisan Nasional member of parliament for Kota Bahru, said he expected ethnic and religious issues to be among the serious issues to be discussed in the next general election. He said that among them would be the issues raised by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) demonstrations on Nov 25.

He said this in his talk on the issues to be expected in the next polls, presented at the Rotary Club’s weekly meeting yesterday. Zaid observe that peaceful demonstrations were part of the democratic process.

“It is actually a small thing to me and I wish that after 50 years of independence, we will be able to manage this thing quite easily. To demonstrate and protest in a peaceful way is part and partial of a democratic country,” he said.

He added that the police could have told the people which road to take and how the organiser should control and limit the crowd so that the demonstrations can be properly managed.

“But our response has always been ‘No’, even the Bar Council has abandoned the walk to celebrate International Human Rights Day (Dec 10). I was part of the walk last year and the year before. It was just a walk. We were just walking around the Lake Garden and it was good exercise.”

Zaid also said sensitive issues such as the demolition of temples must be handled with care, and overlooking that would risk provoking extreme reactions from the people who were affected by it.

He said “using force and power”, the Internal Security Act or revoking the protester’s citizenship would not help the situation or address the real issues faced by the people.

“We have to remember that we are a multi-cultural and multi-racial country and if we, all the time, see it as a Malay, Chinese or Indian issue, we are not going to see the real problem. Somebody said the Malays are worse than Indians as only 2.9% of the Indians are poor, compared with 8% of the Malays who are poor. It is not going to help to say who has the problems. So why are we are still responding to the issues in such a negative way, why do we need to remind ourselves and start comparing ourselves as Chinese, Indians and Malays?” he asked.

“Let’s not talk about race and religion. Let’s just see things as what they are-economic issues and the sensitivity of the people.”

Zaid said the nation needed a people-oriented government, which he described as one which would listen to even the most ridiculous demand from the people. “Some even said we need new faces in the cabinet and I think so too,” he added.

He said he was often asked why he joined the BN, and his reply was that the BN concept to get all the people together was a wonderful concept although it was not easy to achieve.

“You have a wonderful model and you just need to think, to adjust and change from within. So I criticise the BN because I want it to become better.” He said. Adding that the BN should be driven more as a coalition and not by one party or UMNO.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

BENARKAH PAS SUDAH UBAH MATLAMATNYA?

Benarkah penubuhan negara Islam tidak lagi menjadi isu? Mengikut Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim dalam satu kenyataan baru-baru ini memberitahu bahawa PAS tidak berhasrat menubuhkan negara Islam. Malahan mengikut Anwar Ibrahim, PAS dalam tiga tahun kebelakangan ini tidak bercakap ataupun membangkitkan isu ini lagi.

Kenyataan Anwar, adalah reaksi kepada kenyataan Pengerusi DAP sebelum ini yang mengatakan bahawa DAP hanya bersedia bekerjasama dengan PKR sekiranya PKR memisahkan diri dari PAS.

Rakyat umum masih ingat bahasa PAS, PKR dan DAP pernah pada suatu masa menjadi ahli pakatan Barisan Alternatif. Namun, pengundi-pengundi khususnya pengundi Cina tidak menyokong tindakan DAP bekerjasama dengan PAS. Ini jelas terbukti apabila dalam pilihanraya umum 1999, isu penubuhan negara Islam yang diwar-warkan PAS dikatakan penyumbang kepada kemerosotan undi dan kekalahan kerusi-kerusi DAP di Parlimen dan dewan-dewan undangan negeri.


Pada tahun 2001, DAP keluar dari Barisan Alternatif kerana tidak lagi sehaluan dan sependapat dengan matlamat PAS. Peristiwa 9-11 di Amerika Syarikat dan pengisytiharan unilateral Malaysia sebagai negara Islam oleh mantan Perdana Menteri Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed mempercepatkan lagi keputusan DAP untuk keluar dari Barisan Alternatif.

Dalam pilihanraya umum 2004, giliran PAS pula untuk melihat kemerosotan undi dan kerusi-kerusi di Parlimen dan dewan-dewan undangan negeri. Jika pada tahun 1999, PAS boleh menawan Terengganu, dalam pilihanraya umum 2004 lain pula musibah yang melanda PAS. Terengganu berpaling tadah memberi mandat memerintah kepada Barisan Nasional. Di Kedah dan Kelantan PAS hilang kerusi-kerusi yang dimenanginya dalam pilihanraya umum 1999.

Pilihanraya 1999 dan 2004 menunjukkan bahawa masyarakat bukan Melayu masih belum sedia dan enggan berkompromi berkenaan dengan isu negara Islam. Ekoran peristiwa DAP keluar daripada Barisan Alternatif dan juga kemerosotan undi dan prestasi PAS dalam pilihanraya 2004, mula melihat PAS melembutkan isu negara Islam. PAS tidak lagi cuba menonjolkan dan mendepankan isu negara Islam.

Anwar, PKR dan PAS tahu betapa pentingnya undi pengundi Cina dan memandangkan ambang pilihanraya sudahpun kelihatan. Kemelut politik negara pada masa ini juga sekali lagi memberi peluang untuk PAS mengulangi kegemilangan 1999. Pengundi-pengundi Cina sekali lagi akan menjadi penentu. Tambah pula dengan pengundi-pengundi India, ada kemungkinan ketidakpuasan masyarakat India mungkin juga ditunjukkan dalam peti undi. Dalam keadaan sedemikian dan lebih-lebih lagi untuk memikat pengundi Cina, PAS nampaknya tidak lagi mendepankan matlamat sebenar PAS. Cita-cita dan niat sebenar PAS kini tersirat dan terpendam.

Sebenarnya tidak apa yang salah berpegang teguh pada cita-cita dan matlamat. Sekurang-kurangnya PAS jujur dan ikhlas dengan niat dan matlamatnya. Tetapi realiti politik negara adalah berbeza. Negara Islam masih tidak boleh diterima orang bukan Melayu dan bukan Islam.

Kembali kepada isu pokok, persoalannya ialah, benarkah kenyataan Anwar bahawa penubuhan negara Islam tidak lagi menjadi matlamat utama bagi PAS.

Saya percaya kenyataan Anwar adalah tidak benar. Penubuhan negara Islam tetap menjadi dasar dan matlamat PAS. Melayari laman web Dewan Pemuda PAS Wilayah Persekutuan, jelas membuktikan bahawa PAS masih belum berganjak dari matlamatnya. Dalam laman web tersebut, terpapar kenyataan Tuan Guru Dato Nik Aziz dimana Tuan Guru menyatakan “PAS sebagai pembangkang adalah sebagai penegur dan penasihat kepada pemerintah. Seandainya kerajaan pemerintah menukar Perlembagaan dengan meletakkan Islam sebagai wadah perjuangan dan perlembagaan negara, PAS tidak akan menentang. Sebaliknya PAS akan bekerjasama dan bersatu dengan pemerintah demi kedaulatan dan perlembagaan negara”.

Ini adalah kenyataan paling jelas bahawa matlamat PAS tetap sama dan belum berubah. Jika ini tidak cukup bukti, Harakah edisi 1-15 Disember 2007 dengan nyata dan terang menyatakan cita-cita PAS iaitu “menegakkan negara Islam”. Dalam keadaan sedemikian, pengundi bukan Melayu dan khususnya pengundi Cina sudah tentu akan was-was untuk memberi sokongan kepada PKR yang jelas terjerat diantara menonjolkan identiti multi-kulturisma dan sekularismanya tetapi juga menjalin perhubungan dengan PAS kerana survival kerana nasibnya banyak bergantung kepada PAS.

Juga, bagi orang bukan Melayu, kenyataan terbuka Tuan Guru juga membayangi suatu keadaan dimana undi dan sokongan bukan Melayu jika diamanahkan kepada PAS, dalam sekelip mata boleh dikorbankan jika timbul kesempatan yang memberi peluang untuk PAS mencapai matlamatnya. Malahan hari ini ramai terkejut dengan pengakuan PAS apabila PAS dengan terbuka mengakui bahawa PAS dan UMNO kebelakangan ini sering mengadakan perjumpaan membincangkan isu berkaitan Melayu dan Islam.

Justru itu, walaupun isu negara Islam menjadi duri dalam daging untuk PKR, suka atau tidak suka, PKR terpaksa redah dan akur dengan tindak tanduk dan matlamat PAS. Paling kurang dengan tidak menyatakan penentangan terhadap matlamat PAS secara terbuka.

PKR dan PAS perlu memperakui realiti Malaysia. Empat puluh peratus rakyat Malaysia adalah rakyat bukan Melayu dan bukan Islam. Oleh yang demikian biarpun di yakini janji setinggi langit orang bukan Melayu dan Islam tetap tidak sama sekali akan menyokong mahupun sanggup menerima matlamat PAS. Selagi PAS enggan menerima realiti negara ini dan selagi hakikat ini tidak diambil kira, PAS dan PKR akan lemas dalam impian yang tidak tercapai.

Norman Fernandez

Monday, December 03, 2007

After the Temples, now the Cross...

Original Post at : http://www.kopipengkau.blogspot.com/

After the Temples, now the Cross...

I've just read the most disturbing piece of news in this blog which talks about a certain MP of Parit Sulong proposing on the demolishing of statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Crucifix in mission schools (apparently it was the actual words in BM of the MP). The rationale is that Muslim students go to missionary schools and since this is Islamic country, Tuan Syed Hood bin Syed Edros has proposed that these statues should be demolished (dirobohkan) and the crosses destroyed (dimusnahkan).
If you are wondering whether he really did say it, download the transcript of the parliament here and check out page 143 (it's available for the public). Here's another blog that mentioned about this. And another. And another. Obviously as an MP, he's not too well-versed in the Constitution of Malaysia, which he should be as he is, after all, a member of the parliament. I'm just saddened that after the Malaysian government has decided to go on a temple demolition spree, some crack pot wants to go after the mission schools. What will they think of next? It just amazes me that after being independant for 50 years, as a nation, it seems that we're just going one step forward and two steps back.
Surprisingly, there are quite a number of well-known folks who graduated from Missionary schools, to name a few, see below. I wonder, by going to mission schools, would all of these jokers develop a sudden urge to be a Christian, quite apparently, not. :

St. John's Institution (check it out here):
Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah Al-Haj ibni Almarhum Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Al-Haj, Sultan of Selangor
Raja Dr Nazrin Shah, Raja Muda (Crown Prince) of Perak
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia
Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein Onn, Education Minister of Malaysia
Benedict Ponniah, Chairman of the First International Labour Conference in Singapore and First Under Secretary to the Secretary General of the United Nations (1949)
Dato' Abdul Azim Mohd. Zabidi, chairman of Bank Simpanan Nasional and UMNO Treasurer

St. Paul's Institution :
Zainal Abidin bin Ahmad, a Malay scholar familiarly known as 'Pendita Za'Ba'.
S Rajaratnam, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Singapore (1965 - 1980), Minister for Culture of the Republic of Singapore (1968 - 1971), Deputy Prime Minister (Foreign Affairs) of the Republic of Singapore (1980 - 1984).
Tan Sri Dato' Chan Choong Tak, former President of the Malaysian Senate, currently Patron of the Old Paulians' Association.
Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, Malaysia's first astronaut (dato'ship-got-or-naut)

St. Michael's Institution (More here) :
Dato' Seri Lim Keng Yaik, President of the Gerakan Party and Minister of Energy, Water and Communications
Tan Sri Dato' Seri (Dr) Lin See-Yan, Pro-Chancellor of Universiti Sains Malaysia and former Deputy Governor of Bank Negara
Datuk Paul Leong Khee Seong, former Minister of Primary Industries and former Deputy President of Gerakan Party
Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, State Legislative Assemblyman for Bukit Nenas, Selangor from 1969 to 1974; Member of Parliament for Kuala Lumpur Bandar/Bukit Bintang from 1974 to 1990; Vice-Chairman of the Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation; Member of the Kuala Lumpur City Hall Advisory Board; and Member of the National Service Training Council

SMJK Catholic PJ :
Ong Ka Ting (黃家定) - Ex Teacher
- Current MCA president, Minister of Housing and Local Development
Fong Kui Lun
- Bukit Bintang Member of Parliament - President of CHS Alumni




UMNO-Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament Question in Parliament

taken from http://www.parlimen.gov.my/hindex/pdf/DR-29102007.pdf - page143-144.

Tuan Syed Hood bin Syed Edros [Parit Sulong]:Tuan Yang di-Pertua, saya ingin menyentuh satu perkara tentang Kementerian Pelajaran iaitu sekolah-sekolah mubaligh seperti Convent, La Salle, Methodist dan sebagainya. Saya difahamkan Lembaga Pengarah di sekolah-sekolah ini sebahagiannya ditadbir dari gereja-gereja di luar negara seperti di Vatican City. Saya juga difahamkan permohonan untuk membina surau
di sebahagian sekolah-sekolah ini terpaksa mendapat kebenaran daripada Lembaga Pengarah
yang mana Lembaga Pengarah ini sebahagiannya ditadbir oleh gereja.

Jadi amat memalukanlah, bagi diri saya, tentang pentadbiran sekolah-sekolah ini yang
masih lagi dikawal oleh pihak gereja. Begitu juga saya difahamkan tentang iklim sekolah-sekolah
tersebut, banyak ibu bapa Islam menghantar anak-anak mereka ke sana, mereka kompelin
sebab ada kalanya sekolah dimulakan dengan lagu-lagu gereja. Ini saya tidak tahu benar atau
tidak, tetapi ia apa yang saya dapat daripada ibu bapa sendiri tetapi yang jelas di sekolahsekolah
ini terpampang simbol-simbol agama. Saya rasa kecewa di dalam negara Islam,
Malaysia ini, kalau saya pergi ke sekolah convent, ada terpampang patung St. Mary di depandepan
sekolah convent...

Datuk Haji Mohamad bin Haji Aziz [Sri Gading]: [Bangun]

Tuan Syed Hood bin Syed Edros [Parit Sulong]: Silakan Yang Berhormat bagi Sri
Gading.

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Dr. Yusof bin Yacob]: Ya, Yang Berhormat bagi Sri
Gading.

Datuk Haji Mohamad bin Haji Aziz [Sri Gading]: Bagi saya sudah tidak terkejut, Yang
Berhormat bagi Parit Sulong, cerita ini... [Disampuk] Bukan soal biasa. Soalnya kenapa boleh
berlaku seperti ini? Satu. Hari Raya yang lepas, saya diberitahu oleh seorang bapa, waktu
Aidilfitri disambut, sekolah jenis-jenis ini tidak ditutup. Terima kasih.

Tuan Syed Hood bin Syed Edros [Parit Sulong]: Bukan sahaja patung, tetapi Ahli-ahli
Yang Berhormat pergilah, tengoklah salib Kristian diletakkan di depan-depan sekolah. Saya tidak faham Kementerian Pelajaran, adakah pegawai-pegawai tidak nampak atau memang dasar kita membenarkan perkara ini. Walau bagaimanapun, saya sebagai orang yang bertanggungjawab kepada diri saya, agama, bangsa dan tanah air ini, saya menyatakan pendirian saya bahawa patung-patung ini hendaklah dirobohkan, salib-salib ini hendaklah dimusnahkan dan pengaruh-pengaruh gereja di sekolah-sekolah ini hendaklah dihentikan.
Begitu juga dana yang dikumpulkan di sekolah-sekolah ini. Adakah kita mendapat
laporan? Kalau boleh kementerian mendedahkan dana sekolah-sekolah ini. Saya difahamkan
ada sekolah-sekolah ini juga ditaja oleh pihak-pihak gereja. Dana-dananya datang daripada
gereja-gereja dan adakah pihak kementerian pantau sumber-sumbernya? Adakah audit-audit
dilaksanakan?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Dr Toh Kin Woon :I disagree with the country's leaders

Several major marches and pickets, all peaceful, have taken place in our country over the last few months.

There was the ‘Walk for Justice’ organised by the Bar Council. This peaceful march called for a complete review of the country’s judiciary system with a view to restoring its independence, and hence put into effect the separation of powers so important for justice. This was followed by a march to the palace organised by Bersih, a broad coalition of political parties and NGOs, calling for free and fair elections.

The most recent, this time to hand over a memorandum to the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, was organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force, or Hindraf, in short. Although the stated objective of this last demonstration was to demand compensation for the exploitation of Indians from the British government, it was in effect to highlight the socio-economic and cultural plight of the Indians, especially their lower strata.

To all these must be added the numerous pickets called by the trade unions for higher salaries just to meet rises in costs of living so burdensome to the workers.

All these marches and pickets, especially those organised by Bersih and Hindraf, drew tens of thousands of people. And this, despite the authorities warning the public not to take part as these assemblies were all so-called “illegal”. Participants were threatened with arrest should they take part in all these illegal assemblies.

These marches drew flak and condemnation from almost all Barisan Nasional leaders. Their criticisms centred on their illegality, potential threat to peace, the possible destablisation of the economy including frightening away foreign investors. I disagree with the views of our country’s leaders.

Instead of condemning, one would have thought and hoped that they should have been more concerned over the grievances, frustrations and disappointments that have brought so many thousands to the streets in the first place and to seek fair and just solutions to them.

Is it true that there are lots of defects in our country’s judicial system? If so, what are they? What must we do to overcome these so that we can restore its independence, and give real substance to the separation of powers in order to strengthen our country’s democratic institutions?

Likewise, what are the shortcomings in our country’s electoral system, especially pertaining to the electoral rolls, election campaigning, access to media, etc? And on Hindraf, what are the grievances, frustrations and unhappiness of the lower strata of the Indian community, and that of all the other communities, pertaining to housing, education, health, jobs, equity and religious freedom?

Until and unless these and many more issues concerning our country’s judicial and electoral systems as well as social justice for the poor are looked into seriously and satisfactory solutions found, the discontent that has brought thousands to the streets over the last several months will remain. To me, it is this discontent and unhappiness that will be a greater threat to our country’s peace and stability, rather than the marches, pickets and demonstrations.

To be fair, the government did finally agree to the setting up of a royal commission of inquiry to look into the Lingam case that triggered the outpouring of dissatisfaction over the state of our judicial system. The terms of reference of this soon to be set-up royal commission have, however, not yet been announced. Hopefully, its scope of work will include getting to the bottom of why our judicial system has declined so precipitously over the years.

A truly democratic society that allows peaceful marches, an independent and just judicial system, free and fair elections, equal respect by the state for all religious faiths and social justice for the poor are, among others, the key pillars of democracy, peace and stability. Without these, no amount of coercion, including the threat to use the obnoxious Internal Security Act (ISA), can bring us the lasting peace and security that all Malaysians desire.

Finally, I find it extremely disturbing that a backbench Barisan Nasional MP who took a divergent stand on Hindraf should be so severely rebuked and chastised by a couple of BN leaders. This clearly does not augur well at all for intra-BN democracy.

The message sent seems to be that all BN elected representatives are expected to be meek and passive followers of the views of their leaders and that no space is provided for independent views, including those articulated by the larger civil society. I wonder how such a stance by the leaders can attract people who want to seek changes from within!


The writer is a member of Gerakan and Penang state executive councillor for Economic Planning, Education, and Human Resources Development, Science, Technology and Innovation.


Original post at http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/75414

Zainuddin Maidin-Al-Jazeera Interview - Updated With Transcript

Al Jazeera: Here is now joining us on the phone is Malaysia’Information Minister Zainudin Maidin. There were very violent scenes we saw earlier today. How can you justify your strength of response to peaceful protests?
Zainuddin Maidin: That is your interpretation of violence is not violence. Your man, your journalist trying to project, exaggerate more than what actually happened; that’s it. We are laughing; congratulate your journalist behaving like an actor, very good actor.


Al Jazeera:: As you are saying that so, we are watching scenes of protesters (Interrupting: Yeah, I am watching, I hear) being sprayed with Chemical filled water?
Zainuddin Maidin : It is not as what you have been trying to do this, to do it everywhere but in Malaysia people are laugh you, We know our Police at last have allowed the procession to go to Istana Negara, you know. Do Police, First Police might be handled them with tear gas. Police don’t, don’t fire anybody.


Al Jazeera: Our correspondent came back to our office with chemicals in his eyes
Zainuddin Maidin : This is the way, your idea is that what you are trying to project what is your mind, you think we Pakistan, we are Burma, we are Myanmar. Your thinking


Al Jazeera: Well unfortunately when you refused to let people to protest, it does appear so
Zainuddin Maidin: That is why we are not like you. That is why you have early perception. You come here and you want to project us as like undemocratic country. This is a democratic country.


Al Jazeera: So why can’t people protest then if it is a democratic country?
Zainuddin Maidin: People protest. First they protest. We are allowing protest and they have demonstrated. But when we try to disperse them, and then later they don’t disperse, later our Police compromise. They have compromised and allowed them to go to Istana Negara. Police, our Police have succeeded in handling them gently, right? Why don’t you report that and you take the opposition, someone from the opposition party, you asked him to speak; you don’t take from the Government, right


Al Jazeera: Why did you not break up these protesters more peacefully?
Zainuddin Maidin: Pardon, pardon


Al Jazeera: Why did you not break up these protests more peacefully?
Zainuddin Maidin: I can’t hear you. I can’t hear you.


Al Jazeera: Why did you not break up these protests more peacefully?
Zainuddin Maidin: No, we are, first this is illegal. We don’t want, normally this demonstration..


Al Jazeera:: OK, let me return to my former question: why is the protest illegal?
Zainuddin Maidin: Yeah it is illegal. First is because (Why?) we have the election in Malaysia. No point of having a protest. We are allowing, we have an election every five years, never fail. We are not like Myanmar, not like other country. And you are helping these. You at Al Jazerra also is helping these, these forces. You know these forces who are not in fashion, who don’t believe in democracy


Al Jazeera: Many thanks for joining us.
Zainuddin Maidin: Yes that is Al Jazeera Attitude, right

ABIM, SIAPA YANG PATUT BERTENANG?

ABIM, hari ini melalui pengerusinya Yusri Mahmud menggesa rakyat pelbagai kaum agar bertenang dan juga merayu masyarakat Islam agar jangan mencetuskan sebarang reaksi yang tidak wajar, semata-mata kerana HINDRAF dalam memorandumnya telah menggunakan perkataan-perkataan seperti “pembersihan kaum”, “penjajahan kekal”, “extremis Islam”, “geng Melayu”. ABIM menganggap kesemua perkataan-perkataan ini berunsur hasutan dan berbau subversif.

Saya bukan seorang cauvanis, malahan bukan ahli ataupun penyokong HINDRAF. Saya berpegang kepada prinsip bahawa kita boleh menyuarakan apa-apa isu secara beradab dan tanpa menyinggung perasaan mana-mana pihak.

Dalam menuding HINDRAF, ABIM seolah-olah sengaja lupa mesyuarat persidangan perwakilan UMNO 2006. Masih ingatkah bagaimana wakil-wakil UMNO secara terbuka melemparkan pelbagai cemuhan, amaran dan menggayakan aksi-aksi provokasi dan mencabar kaum bukan Melayu. Gelagat dan ucapan wakil-wakil tersebut adalah jauh lebih subversif dan menghasut (jika dibandingkan dengan apa yang dilakukan HINDRAF). Malahan ucapan dan aksi wakil-wakil ini mendapat sorakan, tepukan gemuruh dan restu daripada yang hadir.

ABIM tidak mengeluarkan apa-apa kenyataan mengecam tindakan para perwakilan yang melemparkan kata-kata hasutan. Tidak pula ABIM meminta maaf kepada rakyat Malaysia yang berbilang kaum tentang provokasi yang ditunjukkan para perwakilan UMNO mahupun merasa malu dengan tindakan mereka. Pelik bin ganjil ABIM tidak menganggap ucapan-ucapan perwakilan bersifat subversif dan hasutan boleh mencetuskan huru-hara. Tindakan ABIM mendiam diri seolah-olah menunjukkan bahawa ABIM setuju dengan cakap celaru para perwakilan. ABIM juga tidak hilang perasaan. Pelik bin ganjil ABIM yang tidak terkilan dengan kata-kata hasutan para perwakilan UNMO sebaliknya terguris dengan tindakan HINDRAF.

Walaupun, perwakilan UMNO membuat pelbagai ucapan yang rata-rata menghasut masyarakat India dan Cina dan Melayu yang rasional diakhir hari masih tenang dan membiarkan isu yang membara reda dengan sendiri.

Oleh yang demikian, munasabahlah persoalan saya apabila saya bertanya apa muslihat ABIM meloncat masuk gelanggang dan mengapi-apaikan isu HINDRAF ini sehingga menggesa rakyat supaya bertenang.

Persoalan ialah siapa yang tidak bertenang ? Mungkin ABIM kot?

Norman Fernandez.

NAZRI’s ADVICE BUT WILL WE DO THE SAME ?

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Dato Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz was right when he admonished and warned M.Karunanidhi the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister not to interfere in Malaysian politics. He advised the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister should instead look at his own backyard before interfering in Malaysian affairs. (NST November 29, 2007)

I honestly believe that this is good and rational advice. Strange but true, I am with the Minister. Now that the Minister has taken the high moral ground, it is also important to ensure that Malaysia also butt out, stop meddling and giving its two cents view. So would the Minister ensure that Malaysia in future will keep quiet on the issue of Kashmir. That’s India’s domestic issue. At worst it is for India and Pakistan to resolve or go to war. Similarly could we keep out on the issue independence of Chechnya and Kosovo. That’s a European problem. Why offend Rusia, particularly now, since we are hoping for regular rides to space. Also, our support for them may give destructive ideas for some in Borneo. Perhaps, Malaysia should also stay away from the Palestinians. They cannot even unite for a common cause, are at each other’s throat and yet they dare to dream for a country of their own. Malaysia is not in the Middle East so why meddle and allow demonstrations and protest against America and Israel in Kuala Lumpur. After all it must be remembered that America is one of Malaysia’s leading trading partner. Importantly, such demonstrations which is not our culture, effect traders and businesses and not to mention that it mars the image of the country.

After all whats good for the goose is good for the gander.

Norman Fernandez.

Monday, November 12, 2007

DARIPADA MEMBIDAS, LEBIH BAIK JIKA DISIASAT

Kebelakangan ini kerajaan sentiasa war-warkan bahawa pelabur-pelabur asing rancak melimpah wang dalam ekonomi Malaysia. Kerajaan pula melancarkan koridor-koridor pembangunan bermula dengan Wilayah Pembangunan Iskandar. Tidak kurang juga di gembar-gemburkan dengan berita wang Arab yang dikatakan semakin hari semakin mencurah ke dalam koridor-koridor pembangunan.

Justeru itu, adalah mengejutkan untuk mendengar Naib Ketua UMNO dalam perhimpunan agung UMNO mendedahkan bahawa ada segelintir syarikat-syarikat swasta negara yang memandang dingin iklim pelaburan di negara ini, kurang yakin dengan peluang pelaburan di negara sendiri sehinggakan ada diantara syarikat-syarikat swasta yang sanggup membawa keluar modal ke luar negara, padahal pelabur dari Asia Barat cukup yakin dengan Wilayah Pembangunan Iskandar (WPI).

Beliau membidas syarikat-syarikat swasta yang tidak berminat mengusahakan dan membangunkan koridor-koridor pembangunan ekonomi tetapi sebaliknya sanggup melabur di luar negara. Tidak kurang juga syarikat-syarikat swasta yang sanggup menarik diri daripada Bursa Malaysia dan membawa keluar modal untuk dilaburkan di negara lain. Contohnya, ada syarikat swasta yang membawa keluar modal untuk dilaburkan dalam industri hiburan luar negara. Apakah syarikat yang dimaksudkan ini adalah Genting Berhad yang pada masa ini begitu liat membuat pelaburan berbilion-bilion di Singapura dalam sektor resort pelancongan dan kasino dalam menjayakan impian Singapura untuk menjadi negara tumpuan pelancongan dan riadah, mesyuarat dan kasino perjudian yang terulung di Asia.

Dalam era globilasasi, kebanyakan negara sedang berlumba-lumba untuk mempelawa para pelabur. Justeru itu tidaklah menghairankan bahawa jika sesebuah syarikat berkeupayaan, ianya juga akan cuba mengembangkan sayap niaganya di mana-mana negara yang boleh memberi perolehan maksimum tanpa dihantui dan dibelengu pelbagai polisi dan karenah kerajaan. Ini lumrah adab niaga. Yang dicari pelabur dan peniaga “maximum profit, minumum fuss”.

Saya percaya daripada kita membidas syarikat-syarikat tempatan yang membawa keluar modal dan giat melabur di luar negara, eloklah kita risik alasan untuk mereka berbuat demikian. Jangan jadikan wang Arab yang masuk sebagai kayu ukuran iklim niaga negara. Pada masa ini dunia Arab dipandang serong oleh negara-negara barat. Pelaburan dari mereka kurang disenangi dan pelabur dan pedagang Arab berbekalkan wang tidak disambut dengan tangan terbuka biarpun dan selepas peristiwa 9-11, menghadapi pelbagai halangan dan rintangan di dunia Barat. Justeru itu, Malaysia sebagai sebuah negara Islam yang maju meraih tuah memasuki radar niaga mereka dan memberi satu destinasi dan pilihan selamat bagi wang Arab. WPI sudahpun berusia hampir setahun. Persoalannya ialah berapa banyak wang yang benar-benar telah dilaburkan di WPI oleh pelabur Asia Barat ataupun apakah yang ditunjukkan pelabur Asia Barat adalah sekadar minat ingin melabur dan janji untuk melabur di WPI. Mungkinkah lebih sudu dari kuah?

Berbalik kepada soalan pokok, adalah wajar untuk Kerajaan mendapat tahu alasan sebenar mengapa syarikat swasta membawa modal keluar ke luar negara dan agak dingin membuat pelaburan di negara ini dan lebih-lebih lagi di koridor-koridor pembangunan yang dilancarkan. Apakah sebabnya? Mungkinkah politik semasa negara, mungkinkah sistem undang-undang dan kepolisian (law and order), mungkinkah kadar korupsi, mungkinkah sistem pelajaran dan penguasaan bahasa Inggeris, mungkinkah polisi-polisi kerajaan, mungkinkah karenah birokrasi, mungkinkah kerana Malaysia sudah condong dan jadi paksi Asia Barat, mungkinkah pengistiharan Malaysia sebagai negara Islam. Kemungkinan adalah banyak tetapi hakikatnya ialah kebanyakan isu-isu ini telah mengeruhkan suasana politik dan iklim niaga negara ini.

Daripada membidas, lebih baik kita ambil tahu apa yang mula membuat syarikat swasta tempatan gelisah dan rimas dan tidak yakin lagi dengan iklim pelaburan di negara sendiri dan mengambil langkah-langkah yang sewajarnya yang boleh meyakinkan pelabur tempatan.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

ASSOCIATED PRESS – ‘KURANG AJAR’

MalaysiaToday 29 October 2007, published an Associated Press report by Sean Yoong titled “Malaysia’s former King grieves over public loss of trust in the judiciary”.

Sean Yoong in his report claimed that Sultan Azlan Muhibiddin Shah referring to recent events voiced his distress over the loss of confidence by the public in the judiciary.

What I found deeply offensive in the article was the manner, the writer made reference to HRH Sultan Azlan Shah. Sean Yoong throughout his article kept referring to HRH as “Azlan” as though HRH was his drinking buddy. Just look at the references of HRH made by Sean Yoong. “Azlan said”, “Azlan stressed”, “Azlan was the former king”.

This is nothing but a report by a ‘kurang ajar’ reporter who hardly has any respect for protocol and decency. In Thailand he would have been charged for lest majeste.

I think Associated Press owes Malaysia and Malaysians an apology.

WHY KICK UP A FUSS?

With regret, I must disagree with the views of DAP Secretary General, Lim Guan Eng that UMNO is being insensitive and has hurt the feelings of Hindus by continuing to hold the UMNO General Assembly meeting on Deepavali day. Calling on UMNO to apologise to all Hindus is really unnecessary.

I am of the view that, the decision to hold the meeting is the prerogative and wisdom of UMNO. If M.I.C, being the Indian component party in Barisan Nasional is hardly upset, then why should DAP then kick up an unnecessary fuss.

Happy Deepavali.

Friday, October 26, 2007

MALAYSIAN INDIANS - TIME FOR A PARADIGM SHIFT

After 50 years of independence and more than 35 years after the formulation of the New Economic Policy, the Malaysian Indians remain as the most marginalised and underclass community. A large segment of the community remains mired in poverty.

Indians must face up to the fact that the government would continue to be fixated with raced based and affirmative action policies. In the premises, it is high time it dawned on the Indians that they cannot expect nor depend on the government to assist them and instead face up to the truth that only they can uplift themselves from the quagmire they are in.

There has to be a paradigm shift and it must start with education.

In America, the rise and the influence of the minority Jews in many ways came from the community’s emphasize on education. Blacks and the Jews suffered, albeit differently. Both were an underclass community. Unlike the Blacks, who blamed their predicaments on historical injustices and continued on with their lamentation, the Jews on the other hand recognized that the only hope for upward mobility is through education. The end results are clear for all to see. Jews have gone on to rule the world while much of the Blacks remained transfixed in ghettos.

In Malaysia, for inspiration we can look at the Chinese community and see how the community places utmost importance on education. The parents may have been poor and uneducated but not necessarily their children. Chinese parents have long recognized that however poor there are, education and educating their children remain their paramount consideration. That zeal extends to the community unselfishly financially supporting their children’s Chinese school. The Chinese say “ Zai Quiong Ye Bu Neng Quiong Jiao Yu” – Literaly and roughly translated to mean “however poor we are, we must not sacrifice our education’s financial need”. It rubs on the children, seeing the sacrifices the parents make, the children study hard. Haven’t we all seen the scene where the father will be busy frying kwai teow and in the far end of the shop his child is engrossed in his books. Education alleviates their life and the upward mobility continues with their own children.

Within two to three generations they have uplifted themselves to an educated middle class.

Upward mobility for Indians and particularly the Indian poor is possible. But that is only possible with sound education. Indians have to exploit education as an escape tool. Poverty and government alienation ought not to be an excuse.

I came from a poor family. My father, a non citizen could not find work however hard he tried. For almost 13 years he was unemployed. During those hardship years, my mother held on three jobs. She worked as a pre-school teacher, worked weekends at the turf-club and gave tuition. I even remember her working in a factory. Despite being poor, there was no compromise when it came to education. She woke us up at 5 am to make us study, after school she would send us for tuition classes and then more studying till late. Once when we grumbled, she pointed us to the dreary factory workers boarding the factory bus and for good measure also showed us the court house where we saw all those smart and rich looking lawyers gliding by. She showed us our options. We never grumbled ever again. She kept awake and watched us study. Within one week of school closing, she would take us to the bookshop and buy all the books for the following year. While other children went away on end of year holidays, we spent time studying and having a head start. She was prepared to buy any book that would give us that added mark in order to beat our nearest competitor in class. If our exam mark was 80, we were happy but not her. She conducted a post-mortem to see how the 20 marks were lost.

While our neighbours already had colour TV, my house had none. My mother grudgingly and reluctantly only bought a TV when I was in Form 4, and even then a second hand black and white TV. She was steadfast in her belief that having a TV will only be a distraction.

We studied, my mother encouraged us and also punished us when we did not do well. She expected us to be in the top three in the class. So coming out 4th meant getting a warning to buck up and coming out 5th meant getting a canning. It was simple as that. I still recollect coming out 1st in the class during the first term and dropping to 11th during the second term. The punishment I received was such that in the 3rd term I was 1st in the whole school!

My mother had long ago recognised that the value of education and a future with education. While parents were buying their dream house and splurging money on luxuries, my mother saved every possible cent. Finishing school, I did not get the course I desired - Law. When I told my parents that I wanted to study law and mentioned England, my father almost fell of the chair. For my mother, if England it was, then it shall be. I could go to England simply because of her foresight to save money for her children’s education. She must have long recognised luxuries could wait but children’s education could not be compromised. Maybe she had realised that one cannot rely on others or even the government for our future. My mother and later on my father after getting his citizenship and a job educated me, my brother and my sister and only after that they bought a house. We have done well thanks to our parents, particularly my mother who gave her today for our tomorrow. My parents had foresight and recognised very early on that the only way out of poverty was through education.

Pass by Chinese coffee shops in the evening and watch Indian men and the number of beer bottles on the table. Fathers deep in animated (and sometime violent) discussions and conversation which often veers on the state of affairs of the Indian community. Little does he realise that for every bottle downed he has actually drunk away a little his children future. RM20-RM40 a night may not make a dent but multiply that with the number of days, months and years. Imagine the money he could have saved for his children’s education. Instead the beneficiary is the coffee shop owners’ children who leaves overseas for further studies. In fact one beer company annually donates money to Chinese schools based on the number of bottles sold. The Tamil school regretfully gets no donation from the beer company notwithstanding Indians are also their consumers .

Go to Indian homes at night, more likely than not, mothers and their children who ought to be studying will be sitting together and shuffling channels watching Indian serials on ASTRO. Rightfully, the mother could have created a conducive studying environment by having the TV shut during studying hours or such a sacrifice is not possible ought to have made the children go the rooms and study. Instead, mother and children are discussing the story. I still remember when TV finally came to my house. My mother’s rules were very clear. We could only watch TV only on Friday nights and all day on Saturdays. That is all. The cane sat on the top of the TV. The message was clear. Now with the advent of ASTRO, some Indian children know more about sarees than theories.

Malaysian Indians cannot continue to blame their predicaments on their past. To continue to do so would make Indians no different from the American Blacks. Granted many had a life of hardship growing up in the estates. Perhaps their parents were uneducated and their parents left the estates with very little savings, which meant they missed out on good education. Should their own children now also suffer the same fate? Rightfully they should be like the Chinese, their past spurs them to ensure that their own children do not suffer the same fate as them or their grandparents. Upward mobility for the Indians is not impossibility. The Chinese has done it and it was education which did it.

Education is an investment and a prerequisite for investment is money. Indians must make it a priority to save money in order to be able to invest in their children’s education. Actually, there are so many ways to save for children’s education ranging from education insurance to education fund to simply depositing money in saving accounts. In short save religiously. Instead of that many splurge on unnecessary and luxuries. Many Indian parents baulk at the thought of buying a computer for their children because of the price but ensure their home has ASTRO. There is hardly an Indian home without ASTRO. How they get the priorities all mixed up.

In Malaysia, the ideal and cheapest educational option is to be able to enter public universities. However the reality is that places for Indians are limited and sometimes the course offered is not even their choice. Tamil Nesan August 23, 2007 at pg.6 reported in 37 years 117,075 students had graduated from University Kebangsaan and out of which only 247 or 0.07% students were Indians! In previous years, the much derided quota system provided some hope for Indians to enter public universities. Even then the numbers of places offered were very low and particularly for the critical and professional courses which is coverted by all. Now there is the added hurdle of meritocracy. Indian students would need to compete for places. Affirmative policies and now meritocracy makes it very hard for Indian children to enter local institutions and even worst getting the course of their choice. So the only viable option for Indians is private institutions and that naturally requires money.

The Chinese have become less dependent on public universities. Not because of the university’s standards but because of the limited places available. The have long recognised that their realistic option for educating the children is private institutions. The parents don’t place their hopes on scholarship, grants or loans to educate their children. Instead Chinese parents religiously save money for their children’s education.

Fees at private institutions are much higher and it is not always easy to obtain loans, grants and scholarships. Even the fees at the M.I.C initiated AIMST is expensive and beyond the reach of many Indian parents. However, had Indian parents put aside some money and saved through the years, they could have financed their children’s studies at private institutions. Scan the newspapers and see private institutions graduation day roll calls. See how many Indian students graduate in contrast to the Chinese. It is also an indication of the number of Indians studying in private institutions. Many claim that Chinese can afford private institutions because they are rich. My experience has shown otherwise. Chinese parents make tremendous sacrifices for the children’s education.

The lack of foresight to save and to make saving money for children’s education as top-most priority has meant many Indians could not afford to educate their children. The financial constraints meant their children’s education came to a halt. With the lack of qualifications, Indians find it even more difficult to get a job. Thus, the upward mobility becomes a distant dream and their own children’s future even more bleak. They remain in the cycle of poverty. Another wasted generation.

Many Indian parents also fail to realise that with a proper education there is also an opportunity to find jobs elsewhere. With qualification, the children need not remain unemployed in Malaysia. In a globalised economy the world is your opportunity. By fate you were born in Malaysia, by destiny your future could be elsewhere. In America, some 38% of doctors are Indians, 12% of scientist are Indians, 36% of NASA scientist are Indians, 34% of Microsoft employees are Indians, 28% of IBM employees are Indians, 17% of INTEL scientist are Indians and 13% of XEROX employees are Indians. Pepsi-Cola’s CEO is an Indian woman from Madras. See what education has provided. Opportunities and upward mobility.

Instead today, we see jobless, uneducated Indians whose option is to turn to a life of crime. Malaysian Indians have no one to blame but themselves. Malaysian Indians are to some extent responsible for their present unenviable and ignominious situation.

In recent months, some segments in the Indian community have begun to assert themselves. There has been a couple of marches to Putrajaya to handover memorandums demanding action from the Prime Minister and even a law suit has even been filed against the British government for failing to protect and neglecting the interest of the Indians. These protest march and filing of lawsuits would at most only have the result highlighting the community’s plight. It will not bring results.

Indians should stop placing their hope for a better life for them and their children on their community leaders and government. Instead Indians must realise that only they can change their destiny and their children’ and must recognise that education is the main avenue of upward mobility particularly for the Indian poor. Unless that is recognised and there is a paradigm shift the Malaysian Indians would go down as the African Americans in US, if not even worse.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

HOW ABOUT A TERIMA KASIH FOR S. KRISHNAMOORTHY, TOO!

In between the hoopla and the moolah of our angkasawan, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor’s trip to space and back, spare a thought for S. Krishnamoorthy. Krishnamoorthy who? Yes, for many this name would not ring a bell. That’s not suprising since the man of the hour and hero of the nation is Dr Sheikh Muszaphar.

Now for those who do not know S. Krishnamoorthy, he was the 19 year old Malaysian Indian who helped save passengers from the Seagull Express 2, which caught fire on-route Tioman Island on October 13,2007.

One survivor, Ng Soon Tiong, 41 recounted how he saw Krisnamoorthy selflessly handing out life jackets to other passengers and helping children off the burning ferry. He also said that Krishnamoorthy repeatedly dived into the water to pull others to safety. Ng went on praised him by saying “many of the passengers are alive today because of him. We are greatly indebted to him”.

I can understand the nation leaders are over the moon with Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor’s history making and it is only natural to expect that accolades and honorifics would soon follow suit. In the meantime and once the euphoria and the cooing over Dr Sheikh Muszaphar historic space vovage is over, would the national leaders also do the decent thing by equally recognising the selfless heroism of S.Krishnamoorthy who is truly a towering Malaysian we all can be proud of. I watched Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi having a video conference with Dr Sheikh Muszaphar. I am sure Krishnamoothy would be pleased to get a terima kasih phone call from the Prime Minister.

Friday, October 19, 2007

DUMB AND DUMBER

Recently, former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew called the Myanmar leaders (generals) dumb. Could the dumber ones be here? According to the Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis, there is an urgent need for a new jetty at Tioman Island which according to him would result in better services and prevent untoward incident. (Star October 19,2007)

Is the Minister having the view from the wrong end of the teacup?

Perhaps the Minister would like to be informed that people had died from a ferry tragedy and not from a collapsed jetty. As of yesterday, the death count from the Tioman Island ferry tragedy is six and one passenger is still listed as missing. At this stage, what is important is for the government and relevant authorities to first slap criminal charges on the ferry operator for their omissions (at the same time check on the others) and haul up all those who had shricked from their responsibility in ensuring that the ferries plying Tioman Island are not only sea worthy but importantly has all the necessary licenses and has complied with all relevant requirement.

What matters most and importantly now is to ensure safe and sea worthy ferries, and not the construction of a new jetty.

Norman Fernandez

ALAHAI MALAYSIAKU

Bangunan…
rahai;
design fault.

Paip…
bocor;
kontraktor guna alat tiruan.

Siling…
jatuh;
sampah atas bumbung.

Loji…
retak;
blacklist kontraktor

Jalan…
berlubang;
bila ajal baru turap

Parit…
kambus;
tunggu pilihanraya

Tanah…
runtuh;
act of God


Banjir…
kampung tenggelam;
“El Nino” punya pasal

Hutan…
gondol;
demi pembangunan

Jambatan…
goyang;
pacak cerucuk

Feri…
karam;
cari kambing hitam

Wang…
bazir;
siapa cakap ?..dakyah pembangkang

Projek…
terbengkalai;
kontraktor baru ambil alih.

Alasan…
Oooh… seribu.

Norman Fernandez.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

NO FAULT LIABILITY SCHEME- WHAT’S THE RUSH AND TO FAVOUR WHOM?

In a radical departure, the Attorney-General’s Chambers is proposing the introduction of a new no fault liability scheme (NFLS) to replace the existing fault based liability system for persons involved in motor-vehicle accidents.

According to statistics from Royal Malaysian Police Website, there is a high incidence of accident cases in Malaysia and the uptrend is alarming. The number of motor accidents reported are as follows:-

2001 265,416 cases
2002 279,711 cases
2003 298,653 cases
2004 326,815 cases
2005 328,264 cases
2006 341,252 cases

Further, statistics obtained from the Federal Court on Insurance Claims filed in Sessions and Magistrates Court for the period July 2005 to June 2006, reveals that there are almost 37,267 insurance claims pending before the Session courts throughout Malaysia while as at 1st July 2006, there are approximately 11,800 insurance claims still pending in the Magistrates courts in Malaysia.

The attractiveness of the proposed NFLS according to the Attorney General’s Chambers is that, the proposed scheme would provide benefits to all who was involved in the accident regardless who was at fault or had caused the accident. Also, under the NFLS payment of benefits will be prompt upon the production of specified documents such as the medical and police reports. Another feature is the initial minimum payment of benefits with the balance of benefits being paid within a specified time frame.

Thus in brief, what the NFLS provides is the prompt compensation to all persons who have suffered injuries and losses regardless of who caused the accident and even better without going to court. It is this selling point which would be attractive to the average person.

Should NFLS is implemented, it is said that the scheme will be administered by a body similar to the SOCSO.

THE PRESENT SYSTEM

The public perception (and lawyers whose area of practice does not include personal injury litigation) is that the personal injury claim practice is highly lucrative. Not surprising when, the Director of National Consumer Complaints Centre, Mr Darshan Singh in a letter to Malaysiakini (October 10, 2007) welcoming the proposed NFLS claimed that:-

“ The current system has been plagued by many abuses. Accident victims are shortchanged at every level before the award amount reaches them. And when the award does reach them, a bulk of it goes towards professional fees. They are at the mercy of lawyers-be it plaintiffs or defendants-who cash in on the misery of these victims.

High contingency fees are charged although the lawyers Practice & Etiquette Rules clearly forbid the charging of contingency fees. Touts prey on accident victims. Police and medical reports are manipulated in order to shift fault and inflate injuries. Complaints have been received that interest is charged on monies advanced to the victims.

To digress a little, this ass-brained view is lopsided and made without acknowledging and recognising the shortcomings and the pitfalls lawyers in personal injury claim faces or even the present system.

For a start let’s stop associating touts with accident lawyers. It can be safely said touting is prevalent in every area of practice be it personal injury claims or conveyancing. Strangely it is the lowly accident tout who gets the name but never the lawyer who canvases work by arranging a night out and a hooker for the corporate client.

What is conveniently ignored is the fact that in most accident cases, the victim becomes financially strapped and can ill afford medical specialist consultation of even pay for the reports. In most cases it is the lawyer who forks out these payments. Other incidentals include like payments for witnesses and the Investigation Officer. Some times clients don’t even have money for transport to come to court. So is it wrong in such circumstances to charge contingency fees, which I believe should be permitted. No one complains the easy money estate agents make by merely introducing the parties. Aren’t their fees excessive when comparing the extent of their work and liabilities.

With regard to the award, on the contrary it is the lawyers who are at the mercy of their clients. Unlike yesteryears, the insurance awards are made in tee name of the client and not in the name of the law firm. Tales of absconding clients after receiving the money is aplenty.

So when compared to the no win no fees, the high risk and expenditures incurred it is only fair that the lawyers fees are reflective in the lawyers contingency fees of 20% to 25%. The client just provides the case, the rest lies on the shoulder of the lawyer.

The adage it is always prudent to engage the brain before exercising the mouth continues to hold truth.

Coming back to the issue, on paper, NFLS does look like an attractive scheme. But is it?

Tort law has two primary objectives. The first being to compensate parties who have suffered loss. Thus, the injured party obtains compensation for his injury and suffering, loss of amenities, medical expenses, loss of earnings and earning capacity. Where the injury causes incapacity, he can claim for cost of domestic help, nursing care, future cost of medical care and surgery. The second objective is to provide incentives to the potential tort-feasor not to and avoid causing acts which causes loss. NFLS on the other hand, removes the need to provide cause and instead so long as it can be proven loss has incurred, compensation is paid regardless of the fault.


THE MODEL

The Attorney General Chambers in proposing the NFLS states that the objectives of the scheme are to achieve the following goals:-

Community responsibility
Comprehensive entitlement
Appropriate rehabilitation
Fair and expeditious relief
Payment of benefits during interim period.

These objectives clearly mirror the five principles advocated by New Zealand’s Woodhouse Commission 1967. The Woodhouse Commission’s recommendation of a complete overhaul of the existing common law system and replacing it with a new no fault.

Justifying the abandonment of the tort system in favour of the new system, Sir Owen Woodhouse said:-

“Just as the test of fault against standards of reasonable care was becoming confused with standards of near perfection, so did the final result depend too often upon the fortuitous assessment of the evidence or the fortuitous skill of the attorney…It all seemed not only expensive but wasteful to the point of extravagance, as was demonstrated so clearly by the high proportion of funds which never reached the injured persons in respect of whom they have been collected. And there was the affliction of protracted delays”.

The Woodhouse Commission’s report and finding lead to the New Zealand government enacting the Accident Compensation Act of 1972 which came into effect on April 1, 1974. Expressing his support and confidence, the then New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer said that in the previous system, damages tended to overcompensate less serious injuries and that the process of adjudication was a lottery and that there were strong incentives to maximize misery. Trading the tort system for a no fault system according to Geoffrey Palmer would now mean;-

“More victims are paid, they do not have to prove fault from which massive savings results and overall, everyone is better off. It is true that claims that every individual victim will be financially better off cannot be convincingly made. However, judged in the broad spectrum, the reforms provide a better set of arrangements than tort”.

Essentially, the enactment of the Accident Compensation Act 1972 abolishes the right to sue for personal injury caused by accidents. Infact s.394 of the Accident Insurance Act 1998 codifies the no fault scheme. It provides:-

“no person may bring proceedings independently of this Act whether under any rule of law or any enactment in any court in New Zealand, for damages arising directly or indirectly out of (a) Personal injury covered by this Act or (b) Personal Injury covered by former Acts.”

Under the ACA 1972 twenty four hour coverage for accident and injuries was provided for the entire New Zealand population. Despite, the enactment of a number of acts in the preceding years to perfect the scheme, the essential features established under the predecessor act has remained.

The administration of the scheme under the ACA was delegated to the newly established Accident Compensation Commission (later changed to Accident Compensation Corporation). Funding for injury compensation was derived from three distinct funds created under ACA, namely an earner’s account, funded by levies on employers and self employed individuals, motor vehicle accident account, funded by levies on owners of motor vehicles and a supplementary account subsidized by the government. ACC is able to fund these programs by collecting premium payments from all citizens of New Zealand at government regulated rates. The money collected by the government is then assigned to the funds maintained by ACC.


MAKING A CLAIM

In making a claim, the claimant must first lodge a complaint with the ACC and provide all relevant documents. Within two months of being lodged, the ACC must investigate the claim and notify the claimant of its decision or notify the claimant that it requires an extension of time to investigate. Ultimately within nine months of the claim being lodged ACC must notify the claimant of its decision. A claimant may apply within three months of the ACC’s decision apply to the ACC for review of any decision of the ACC under the Code of ACC Claimants’ Rights. Once ACC has received an application seeking review, ACC must appoint as many independent reviewers as necessary to assess the appeal. Following the hearing, the independent reviewer has twenty eight days to make a decision. A claimant may appeal a review decision to the District Court and a party dissatisfied with its decision can appeal to the High Court followed by an appeal to the Court of Appeal.

CRITICISM

In 1996, The New Zealand Business Roundtable after undertaking a research on accident compensation concluded that “the introduction of a state monopoly, no fault accident compensation scheme in New Zealand has been a huge mistake” and argued the introduction of choice and compensation into accident insurance.

A letter appearing in the New Zealand Herald sums up:-

“ More than 20 years have elapsed since New Zealanders were duped into accepting the ‘no fault’ accident compensation scheme. Initially, the new scheme may have appeared attractive enough – if only because of the propaganda expounded in its favour. However on almost all counts, it has proved to be an abysmal failure.

Cost has continued to escalate rapidly and now consume a considerable proportion of nation’s wealth. On the other hand, the meanness of the benefits conferred bears absolutely no resemblance to the principles of compensation.”

DON’T TINKER THE PRESENT SYSTEM BUT RECTIFY SHORTCOMINGS

One is inclined to believe that the push for changes must have come from the insurers. Under the present fault based system, the courts decide the awards while insurers decide the premiums. In view of the escalating claims and the rising awards, insurers are in a hopeless position of being unable to control their claims, cost and income. The NFLS thus must come as manna from heaven, albeit in this case from Putrajaya.

Proponents and advocates of the NFLS are quick to list out all the deficiencies and shortcomings under the present system and that includes as always heaping blame on lawyers. The question is whether NFLS on the other hand, if implemented conclusively benefit the claimant and not the insurers? What is the guarantee that claimants would not be short-changed?

Why the haste in proposing changes without first doing a detail study to find out the shortcomings and the weakness of the present system. Even if there are weaknesses and shortcomings, the question is, what are the measures taken to simplify personal injury litigation and court procedures and also reduce waiting time? Strange as it seems is the fact that the Attorney General Chambers is prepared to implement a radical scheme without first attempting to reform the present system.

Further, since the insurance companies are alarmed with some of the awards handed down by the court, has the Attorney General’s Chambers done any study on the awards handed down by the courts? It is a known fact that some judges in personal injury claims are over generous in their awards. One judge was nick-named “santa claus” for being extremely generous to the Plaintiff and another Judge in making the award goes to the extent in allowing the cents in the claim.

In advocating the NFLS, the sweetener is the payment of the claim in the shortest time but what is not revealed is that in return, the claimant may not be able to claim loss of earnings, future surgeries, cost for domestic help or even nursing care? Aren’t the accident victims being shortchanged here? The claimant is not even told that he faces the real possibility that the awards under the NFLS will be considerably less that what he could obtain under the present system.

Since, the awards are made expeditiously; it is also possible that the awards will be below the levels awarded to accident victims presently. Corrective justice requires full and fair compensation for loss attributed to the wrong and it is unfair to limit the compensation paid to those injured by fault below the levels that would be awarded in a successful civil action for compensatory damages.

Next, under the NFLS, the scheme would be administered by a body similar to SOSCO Board. Judging from the New Zealand’s experience with ACC, claimants under the NFLS can also be put to considerable time, should they reject the quantum awarded. So the delay in obtaining the awards under the present system is also present under the NFLS. There is no guarantee it would not occur here. Claimants under the NFLS, more often than not reluctantly accept the award in the end simply to bring finality to the matter. At least under the present system, there is a choice and more importantly it is his own considered choice. The claimant can if he is prepared vigorously pursue his claim.

Then there is the question of how the Board is going to be funded. In New Zealand, a proportion of money in the ACC is injected by the government and in New Zealand, on a number of occasions due to costs over-runs, the ACC needed urgent injection of funds from the government. For example, in 1986 ACC faced massive cost blowout when compensation expenditures rose more rapidly than levy incomes and to cope with the shortfall, ACC had to draw on its accumulated reserves, which meant the reserves which were to last for the next 4-5 years becoming almost depleted. The New Zealand government had to step in and the government reaction was to increase the levies which in some cases rose up to 500%.

That could occur here too. A mismanaged Board could easily run into financial difficulties requiring government help and bailout. The money advanced has to be recovered somehow and naturally it will be recovered by the payment of higher and increased levies. The Board would never lose. It is the public who will. In the worst case the Board there is no guarantee that the Board itself will sooner or later be hived off and privatised.

Also, there is a possibility that the Board would face increased payouts. NFLS would not deter careless conduct and instead inevitably see a rise in accidents. In New Zealand, during the first year NFLS was introduced , the number of accidents reported jumped by 400%.

To succeed, the Board formed to administer and manage the scheme, has to be efficient, accountable and transparent - all hallmarks in New Zealand. In New Zealand there is efficient monitoring of the ACC- even then the ACC went through financial turmoil’s in the 1980’s. Malaysia, lets admit it, on the other hand, falls way short in these aspects. If the Board is money making, corporate sharks would circle it and edge the government to privatise it and in privatisation crazy Malaysia, it’s not impossible for this Board to be hived off and privatised. Naturally and inevitably, the beneficiary will definitely not be the consumer.

In short, before we consider NFLS, it is advisable a holistic study be conducted on the present system. Identify, rectify and remedy the weaknesses and the shortcoming, not rushing to implement a scheme which the citizens have not been properly informed or educated. Don’t tempt the public with the simplistic temptation of expeditious payment of awards and payment without fault or liability while not revealing the compromises the citizen must be accept in a NFLS. Has the present system been a complete failure? Definitely not. So why the rush and in whose favour is the new system being implemented for?

The views contained herein are solely the author’s as are all errors and omissions if any. The author acknowledges the input of participants of Lunchtime Roundtable - the highly opionated talkshop.