Sunday, March 16, 2008

Pie in Face: Penang Petty Traders Association tells UMNO not to Politicise NEP

Surprise surprise... perhaps the first bit of evidence showing that the Bumiputras either haven't benefitted from the NEP or that UMNO is only holding back Malay potential to play on a leveled playing field.

Of late the PM and all his men have been playing up the issue of the NEP being removed by the DAP and Keadilan. However, one will notice that although the new (Malay and Keadilan Party Backed) Menteri Besar of Selangor has strongly supported the move to abolish the NEP, the PM and UMNO has been playing the racial card by making statements in the media that Malays will be sidelined in Penang and there will be a backlash. Statements they may be, but statements of sowing anger into the hearts of the Malays is what it potentially does. Strangely, they avoided picking on Keadlian for the same stand, but made it all about the (Chinese) DAP's intention to abolish the NEP.

We aren't accusing UMNO of anything, but what has already been reported in the government backed newspapers of The Star and the New Straits Times. And to the layman who thinks about it for a moment, it seems like a racial card is being played by the very people who advocated not to in the not so recent past.

Take a read of an article quoted in the Star today:

Bumiputra traders back open tender policy

BUTTERWORTH: The Penang Bumiputera Petty Traders Association is appealing to state Umno leaders to not politicise the state government’s intention to practise an open tender policy for contracts and projects.

Its chairman Alif Abdul Mutalib Kader, 64, said such a policy would benefit all races, including the Malays.

“Through an open tender policy, we believe there will be equal benefits for all businessmen to have a share in the state’s economy pie.

“The state Umno leaders should think twice before demonstrating in the streets. They should give the new state government a chance to be transparent and fair in its administration,” said Alif who came to The Star’s office in Prai on Sunday to air the association’s views.

Friday, March 14, 2008

UMNO Protesters... Oh, How the Tables Have Turned...

Khairi Jamaluddin, UMNO Deputy Youth Chief, once called the HINDRAF protesters "Monkeys" for demonstrating their discontent in the streets. Yet he was seen demonstrating with 5000 people in the heart of the city, demanding to speak to the US Secretary of State. Unscathed by the police, he emerged a hero for all Muslims as he was seen to be fighting for Palestinian rights.

Perhaps he was unscathed because he is the "Untouchable" son-in-law of the Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi. Perhaps it was because he is an UMNO Youth Leader. Perhaps it was because he was fighting for Muslim rights. Perhaps because of all this, he is seen as fighting for what Malaysia perceives to be right wing political topics, and so it's OK.

Whatever the case may be, these are the double standards that plague our Barisan Nasional that is representative of cronyism and the belief that Malay Rights stand paramount over any other race's rights.

Today, while the nation has nearly voted the Barisan Nasional out of power, the new state governments are adamant on delivering on their pledges that they will abolish the National Economic Policy. The DAP isn't the only party saying this, Keadilan and PAS are also keen on abolishing the policy that has long been regarded as only benefiting the UMNO Malays or those who fall within special circles that are privy to the fruits of the NEP. The youth, like Khairi are beneficiaries of this privilege - and people like him will want to safeguard this safety net that has protected over 3 generations. The Malaysian population is now dominated by Malays by a sheer 70%.

So, how then is the remark by UMNO leaders, saying that the Malays will be marginalised by the dismantling of the NEP - true or possible? For more than 3 generations, they have provided themselves with privileges such as free education, a larger quota of places in the local Universities, special privileges in business and even a special discount for purchasing property.

UMNO should explain to the Malaysian public how it is possible that for about 40 years, Malays have been enjoying this special privilege and they still need it because their equity compared to other races is still below the 30% mark?

This being the case, how much longer does this have to go on? The question they should be asking themselves, by making things easier for Malays to develop as a race, isn't it possible that they have handicapped the Malay will to want to meet challenges and work hard to overcome them?

We believe that it is more the latter that is the cause of Malays not meeting the mark, than some lame excuse that the Chinese are quick to steal opportunities from the Malays.

Throughout history and the world's social development, it is a known fact that the underprivileged are stronger than the privileged. The simple reason being that they have always had to work harder for what they want, and thus see things from a very different perspective, not to mention, the underprivileged are hungry for opportunities to rise the social ladder.

The Malay of today have a lackluster attitude, and have a perspective that they are greater than they really are - but sadly, perhaps only in Malaysia. On a global scale, many won't be able to compete because the competition out there doesn't wait or have special privileges for those crutched by racially biased beliefs that they need things a certain way in order to succeed.

In the not so distant past, Mahathir also said on many occasions that the NEP will eventually be abolished, and that the Malays are not helping themselves. Though he may sing a different tune today - to meet his political ends with the Malay people, one musn't forget that Badawi was also for levelling the playing field during and just after the 2004 elections. But neither of our Prime Ministers had the courage to do the right thing, for fear of being ousted by UMNO party members.

So, it now takes a great lesson such as this, whereby the voters, fed up with years of being marginalised - Malay, Chinese and Indian, united against UMNO and Barisan Nasional, voted them out.

This should be a wake up call for UMNO and the PM... but sadly, the mentality hasn't changed much. Today, you will hear of Badawi sowing the seeds of anger in the hearts of the Malays, making statements that they will be marginalised if the NEP were to be abolished.

One person even said (Quoted in the Straits Times, 14 March 08) that, the Malaysian Malays will be marginalised like the Singapore Malays (if the NEP were non existent). Hah! What utter rubbish! Our Singapore Malay brothers think that the Malaysian Malays are lazy and stupid, they also think that the NEP isn't helping. If UMNO wants to make comparisons like that, they better get their facts right. The Singapore Malay is playing on a level playing field, they succeed on their own merit, they are smart, hardworking and see things from a International view. One to one, they are stronger than their Malaysian brothers many times over - and they are happy and proud of their achievements.

One could say that UMNO is now interfering in the racial politics in Singapore. They best not make such comparisons and not interfere in affairs that they have no understanding of. If so, the Singaporean Malay will be packing his bags and coming to Malaysia to enjoy the NEP. Why would a man or a woman who is fully capable of standing on his/her feet want to subject themselves to a wheelchair?

So today, instead of HINDRAF or Keadilan pounding the streets and protesting, what we see are UMNO members (who once upon a time said that protesting is not the Malaysian way, and even led by Khairi), protesting in the streets.

But why doesn't the police arrest some of the protesters? They arrested HINDRAF men, women and children for a lot less. Actually, just for showing up. Therefore, what is the Ministry of Home Affairs doing about this, are they involved, have they held off the usual beatings of protesters just because these are UMNO members - fighting for "right wing" views?

Little has changed in UMNO, they are still proud and arrogant - but now, they have resorted to taking to the streets - a sign of desperation. Only time will tell whether they are truly capable and sincere in re-engineering themselves.

Group protests outside S’gor secretariat

SHAH ALAM: A small group of people marched from the state mosque to the state secretariat building here Friday to protest against DAP’s decision to abolish the New Economic Policy (NEP).
(This sounds familar...)

The participants started to gather at the roundabout near the mosque just after Friday prayers at about 2.30pm and were seen standing at the side of the road carrying banners.

The protesters stopped right in front of the line formed by the police Light Strike Force (LSF) members, about 150m from the main entrance to the building, but continued with their cries. They left peacefully about 20min later.
(They should have been beaten and shot at with tear gas and water cannons - the norm in dealing with other HINDRAF, Keadilan & Bersih protestors)

Shah Alam Deputy OCPD Deputy Supt Mohd Shariff Abdul Wahid said police were aware of the planned gathering and confirmed that no permit had been issued for it.
(They should have been arrested... again the norm for dealing with people who break the law)

“The secretariat building is a protected government building so we stationed 50 men there including two units of the LSF as a precautionary measure,” he said.

He said the protesters, who belonged to a political party, had asked to meet with Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim but the police did not permit this due to security concerns.
(A political party? Can't be the opposition, can't be MCA or MIC - we don't think they care about the NEP. So it has to be UMNO members. Maybe it's because they are UMNO members that they weren't shot at, sprayed and arrested. How irresponsible of UMNO, it's OK for them to protest and hold illegal gatherings (like the example set by Khairi Jamaluddin), but any other group or party that does this will be arrested. UNFAIR!)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Badawi not keen to drop the NEP

Quoted from the Straits Times of Singapore, March 11 2008:
... Flanked by BN component party leaders at a press conference yesterday, he played down the failure to obtain a two-thirds majority in Parliament. When first asked about it, he retorted:
"In what way is it so vital?", "As far as we are concerned, we are not so crazy to be wanting to get two-thirds".

Hmmm... that's strange, perhaps Badawi and his advisors are having a major blonde moment. We will all recall that BN fought tooth and nail, dragged the opposition contenders names through the mud with media blitz, not to mention the numerous quipps by BN contenders that 2/3ds majority is in hand... which later turned into... if we don't get 2/3ds majority, the people will suffer the consequences.

Furthermore, this comment by Badawi is certainly not in line with the more level headed MCA President: "We never thought the outcome would be like this. We will not blame the voters. We will take note of the strong message the voters have sent us this time and at the same time, we will deliver what we have promised the people".

Much better, it's obvious that some people have learned their lesson... but the target was really UMNO, not MCA.

But the remark by Badawi is shocking, it shows that UMNO still believes they are all powerful and unaffected by their dismal results and poor public approval ratings. So it looks like little is going to change on that front. Guess we will just have to handover the entire elections in 4 years time to the opposition, provided they perform - which there is no reason why they shouldn't.

Worst of all, Badawi indicated that, Quote: "He did indicate, however, that he would not do away with the remnants of the New Economic Policy (NEP), which many had deemed pro-Malay".

This is strange, I think we can all recall that Badawi was not long ago, for the systematic dismantling of the NEP. But today, he changes his story. Why? Best guess, Badawi is playing the racial card (like the rest of his UMNO colleagues). Now that they have lost favor with the Malays, he seems top be offering them a reason to come back, and he thinks that by singing songs of old, the NEP, that they will support him? Guess again.

Just today Badawi warned the DAP that dismantling the NEP in Penang will bring about economic strife to the Malays in Penang, and Lim Guan Eng will be fanning racial tensions because the Malays will be marginalised.

So who is sewing the seed of anger in the hearts of people?

All Guan Eng is doing is putting a stop to the NEP in terms of government tenders and ensuring that government tenders are open for all. How is this removing Malay rights? Besides, this has been a highly unpopular policy with the non-Malays, and these days Malays alike.

Besides, in spending public monies, shouldn't the tender be open to all? And not question whether you are Bumiputra or Non-Bumiputra, and whether 30% of your workforce is made up of Bumiputras. Perhaps this is why we have sub-standard build quality, town planning and so forth. Because the contractors, some Malay company knows that regardless of what they do, they are promised the contract under the NEP. How will we progress this way? How can we be world class?

Shouldn't the contract be awarded to the company presenting the best quality at the lowest price? These days, if you ever spoke to anyone having dealings with government departments, you'd come to understand that things, be it services, tangible items and so on, are purchased with taypayers money at highly inflated prices.

Just last year, the local papers covered the Auditor General's report which highlighted the purchase of numerous things at ridiculous prices. ie. Screwdriver set = RM300+ (real value RM30), 2 pcs. 3.2 megapixel digital cameras = RM8,000+ (real value RM1,500). Yet they are purchased, and someone is making a lot of money in between. That series of articles were quickly stopped after 3-4 days of reports.

Therefore, the DAP's idea of practicing open tenders in Penang is definately a good way forward for better management of government expenses and hence public funds.

So, the Prime Minister who claims that he is a "PM for All", is really just a fallacy, because his actions speak volumes of what his true intentions are - and that of UMNO.

UMNO should really stop being a spoiled sport and not fan racial sentiments and let the Opposition do what they promised the very people who voted for them. Unless, of course, UMNO is afraid that it might actually work out.

UMNO really needs to reinvent itself and offer the Malays something more without denying the poorer Malays opportunities, and the rest of the minority races as well.

Badawi Denies Khairi is a Key Factor in Barisan's Poor Performance

Quoted from The Star, 11 Mar 2008 - To a question on whether Barisan’s performance this time was hampered by son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin, Abdullah denied this, saying that Khairy “is not an influence in whatever I do.”

“He is not the one who says, 'Baba, please accept this. This one you must do.’ He does not do that,” he said.

Perhaps it may be true that he doesn't influence the father-in-law in the aspects of policy and business dealings. Even then, how will we ever know whether there is any truth in that statement?

Based on the evidence the people have, Khairi has business dealings in ECM Libra and Scomi to name a few. These companies have prospered in the recent years, either by way of market forces or perhaps on the sole basis that Khairi Jamaluddin is the son-in-law of the Prime Minister, who's to say the the indirect (or direct) influence of the Prime Minister didn't have something to do with it. Notwithstanding Khairi's rise in UMNO, being Deputy Youth Chief and now potentially an Minister in Parliament, certainly must have been due, at the very least - somewhat - to the matter that the Prime Minister is his father-in-law.

Further evidence such as the widely known personal agenda of Khairi Jamaluddin to become Prime Minister (seldom boasted by even sons and grandsons of former Prime Ministers) is certainly in line with his quick rise in the party. Perhaps he is as capable as some people think he is, or perhaps it's all but an illusion, formed on the basis that he has a fancy degree, has many companies, and whose father-in-law is the Prime Minister. I believe many have seen their fair share of people with fancy degrees, inherited wealth or influence and a smart mouth, with little else to offer the people but a lot of hot air.

But really, nobody is really looking at this matter from another perspective. Khairi's rise in power and in government is really due to his father-in-law's influence (not the other way around). The fact that he is part of the family is enough to deter many from challenging him, for he may and could be someone people may need to answer to some day - or be at his mercy. Therefore, politically speaking, it's not really a good idea to challenge him, either from matters of the state, party politics or even business, because if things continue as they are, Khairi has the potential to rise to a position high enough whereby he will eventually have some real influence of his own.

Think about it, during the Asean Summit in 2007, Khairi led a mob of 5000 Mat Rempit's to the KLCC Convention Centre and demanded to handover a memorandum to the US Secretary of State, and when denied the opportunity, he violently pushed his way through, fighting the police and even got as far as entering the building. There was not one scratch on him. He wasn't beaten or even jailed for breaking the law as there was no permit to hold a public gathering.

How is this possible? When Anwar Ibrahim was jailed in 1997, the police beat demonstrators for a lot less. When HINDRAF brought their women and children out to demonstrate peacefully for their rights, the police, as we understand it drew first blood with the first shot of tear gas and water cannons. Khairi went directly against the police and the law, and he was untouched.

Perhaps we should now refer to Khairi as "The Untouchable" now, after the mafia movie of the 80s.

So when the Prime Minister says that there is no influencing going on, we say it's a blatent LIE.

By virtue that Khairi is related to the Prime Minister, he shouldn't be holding any public office or even high posts in UMNO. He quickly becomes a liability to both UMNO and Prime Minister on the sole basis that he is a relative, he is rising fast and he's obviously what is referred to as a Malay Ultra with ambitions.

If Badawi were smart, he would not include Khairi in his cabinet and seek for him to step down from his UMNO post immediately. There is something called conflict of interest and that is what this is. It is usually never direct, but the mere fact that the PM condones the possibility of conflict of interest, is very dangerous for this can create a trend of certain powerful families leading the government.

Say what you like about our former PM Mahathir, but at least the man had the integrity and perhaps wisdom not to allow for any such accusation to befall him and his sons. Mukhriz Mahathir was not an MP until this election, and Mahathir had always deterred his children from taking public office for reasons that he is PM.

The integrity of UMNO and the PM is clearly at stake, it would be mighty foolish of Badawi not to recognise the danger of his son-in-law destabilising the party, the PM's position and potentially the country with his radicalism and ambition.

UMNO, it's time we clean our house. The public must believe that our intentions are sincere and that we will be effective, with effective people leading the party and country. Conflict of interest, will undermine the public view of UMNO.

Do the right thing... or get pushed out sooner or later - which will effectively be an even more tragic end with greater consequences. So let's see how responsible Badawi is going to be.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Barisan Gets a Slap in the Face from the Rakyat

Tahniah Rakyat Malaysia! Your message to the national coalition has been delivered, with an even greater force than expected. So, the Silent Majority that Barisan Nasional always banked on, has deserted them. This is a sign of the people's deep dissatisfaction with what has gone on in the past 4 years.

At this very moment, some of our BN leaders who have been slayed, or colleagues of the same, are reporting to the media that they they can't say what has gone wrong and that it will require some analysis. What is there to analyse?

I believe that we can collectively answer that question... in general, the BN didn't take many things seriously:

1. The rights of the minority groups, ie. the Chinese and Indians. So far, only the Indians have protested openly, however, the Chinese, as usual won't really choose to take to the streets, but we believe spoke through their votes, whereby Chinese political representative stalwarts were replaced by an array of Indians, Chinese and Malays from Keadilan or DAP.
2. The BN's inability to address key issues around not only the marginalisation of the minority races, but the minority religious groups as well. Ie. Buddhists, Hindus and Christians. In previous articles, all based from articles published in the local newspapers and some regional press, it has been obvious that over the past decade, the propogation of any other religion but Islam was stifled. How many new temples are built? How many new churches have been built? Applications to build were not approved or sidelined, but at the same time, DBKL and state governments build mosques using public funds to sponsor the development of a more Islamic Malaysia. All good and well, we as muslims, christians, buddhists and hindus would never complain about such things, but if this is so, then it must be equal
3. Some people accuse those in BN of corruption, although there has been no clear evidence of it, considering some of the widely publicised indulgences of certain individuals in the past 2 years, have shown how widespread it is.
4. The insensitivity of certain party leader's and minister's comments about other ethnic groups; ie. Khairi Jamaluddin (UMNO youth deputy chief) and Nazri (Minister in PM's Department). These two individuals alone caused a lot of damage to UMNO by their racially charged comments, to the extent of warning the chinese not to push the Malays. This followed by Hishamuddin's (UMNO youth chief) drawing of the kris to symbolise Malay power, did not auger well with the people.

The above spiral and branch out into a variety of other issues that plague our country. Our people have been divided by these words and this thinking and the government under Badawi did little to mediate and mitigate.

While BN has been distracting the people with raising issues around HINDRAF and the promise of better security, the Iskandar Development Region and so forth, these issues were sidelined and not considered seriously, or if anything, not addressed.

So BN, this is the price you will have to pay. Sharizat made a comment in the media that the people have done this to "teach BN a lesson", and "they have to accept the consequences" (as BN has lost the 2/3 majority). Again, threats. No, we don't want to hear anymore threats. Not especially from a party stalwart who has been ousted by a young lady with hardly any experience who is half her age. Not to mention, in an urban constituancy where many educated and wealthy individuals live.

Do not threaten the people anymore. BN must accept their defeat and clean their house. Out with the old policies of favouritism, out with the arrogance of being in power for 50 years, and start working for the people, not dwell on some rhetorical rubbish and treat the public like they are stupid.

Times have changed, the new generation of Malaysians are better educated, and have a lesser tolerance for mediocrity.

Many of us were raised to support BN because we were promised peace, harmony and equality. We don't think that any of that is true. Perhaps on the surface it may seem so, but the racial divide is there, and it grows. But, typical of the Malaysian way, our leaders would wait until it blows up in their face before they decide they have a problem.

Malaysians today have taken drastic measures and great risks in bringing in a stronger opposition to hopefully quell the overly arrogant and Malay Rights "crazed" Barisan Nasional. We are all watching and hoping that this decision is the right one. If not, well, this now shows that anyone is expendable and we have discarded our loyalties for merit and performance.

Khairi said today that "we will fight back". Well, you may have that chance, only if BN reinvents itself and the Opposition DOESN'T prove itself to be able to deliver.

Everyone is expendable. Times have changed, people have changed.