Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I meant to post this earlier however I was caught up in a series of events that I let it slide. Yesterday when I came across this article, I then decide to post this anyway for completion sake. This article is about UPKO's decision in staying put in Barisan Nasional to act as its conscience. The party head, Bernard Dompok, also made some strong statements about his party's stand on the illegal immigrants, Borneonisation of the civil service, religious freedom and Petronas' arrogance plus more. The religious freedom may have struck a cord to some religious sensitives that they are demanding a police investigation on Dompok's speech.
After having the read the article, I felt sick in the stomach. For I believe that we shouldn't forcibly impose our religious beliefs upon an unwilling neighbour, whether it is constitutionally correct or not. To me anything relating to loss or abuse of personal freedom is a sin of the highest degree.
Anyway, that is only my own opinion. You are entitled to yours.
Sunday, October 12th 2008
Upko president Bernard Giluk Dompok has pledged to remain with the Barisan Nasional as the “the coalition’s conscience” for now, although he warns the tide in Sabah, as elsewhere in Malaysia, is very much against the ruling coalition.
He made the pledge in a 21-page keynote policy address which set the tone for his party’s three-day 12th triennial meeting which ends today.
“Without your commitment, we would not have been able to rise against the onslaught of the opposition at an election (the March national polls) where the tide against the BN was very much evident in Sabah but perhaps not as strong compared to the semenanjung (peninsula) states,” admitted Dompok.
Upko has four MPs, six members in the state legislature and a senator.
The Upko president chartered three salient points to illustrate the party’s role in the wake of the March political tsunami whereby the BN lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament, four states, one Federal Territory and failed to wrest back Kelantan despite all the earlier pre-poll predictions.
First, the results of the March general election changed dramatically the political landscape of the nation, ushering in an emerging trend of a discerning electorate willing to look beyond the comfort of a government that has a proven track record of bringing post-independence development.
Second, the electorate of today seems to say that there are very serious neglects in our national life which growth rates at the national level alone will not be able to address.
Third, for the BN, the time has come to take stock of the situation; to identify these neglects and offer remedies that will rekindle the trust and the high esteem that we were once held in the hearts of those who had given us dizzying majorities in previous elections.
Sabah and Sarawak now vital
However, there was a strong note of disappointment and frustration in Dompok’s address when he pointed out that many issues raised by the party during previous meets remained unresolved at the community level, the state level and the national level although these have been raised through various meetings and dialogues.
“National issues, those that are directly under the purview of the national government, were the major cause for the big swing towards the opposition as the biggest casualties came from the national parties,” said Dompok.
“Today, the BN would not be able to form the national government without the members of Parliament from Sabah and Sarawak. It is to no one’s surprise therefore that the people of East Malaysia now want the Federal Government to pay serious attention to the many grouses which have been brought to their attention and which so far has received unsatisfactory responses from them.”
Dompok directed much of his party’s wrath at the long festering problem of illegals in Sabah and other issues - including what he said was gross under-representation in the federal cabinet - which has been conveyed to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when he took a fact-finding trip to Sabah and Sarawak recently “to ascertain the views and the unhappiness of the two states”.
He reiterated his party’s long-standing call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the state National Registration Department, its complete revamp, and the issuance of ICs in Sabah including to illegal migrants as a result of lax administration.
“We have informed the prime minister that action on the problems faced by Sabah with regards to illegal immigration is long overdue and the government must now muster the political will to finally address this subject,” said Dompok. “Indeed, we are not alone in asking for urgent action. The sentiment is shared by all component parties of the Barisan Nasional.”
Local issues unsolved
Relating his unhappy experience as chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Integrity, Dompok again raised the issue of departments under the Home Ministry being directed not to attend his committee’s meetings.
The ministry's officials admitted during previous meetings that “all was not well at the state NRD and Immigration Departments”, among others.
Elsewhere, Dompok touched on the question of religious freedom, Borneonisation of the civil service, and Petronas’ “arrogance and disrespect” for even the prime minister who had earlier made certain decisions in favour of Sabah despite the national oil corporation ruling against “the interest of the state”.
“On May 13 this year, the prime minister promised before a gathering of BN leaders in Kota Kinabalu that Petronas will stop plans to ship gas from Kimanis in Sabah to Bintulu in Sarawak,” said Dompok.
“Despite the prime minister’s pledge, Petronas melawan the perdana menteri and is going ahead with its gas shipment plans. It was a big mistake for Sabah to have agreed to yield to Petronas the rights to petroleum in the 70s and to accept in return only five per cent as royalty payment.”
Dompok decried the fact that although Sabah is potentially the biggest supplier of crude oil with known reserves of 2.2 billion barrels out of 5.4 billion barrels and 11.6 tscf gas reserves, “we have nothing to show for it unlike Terengganu, Sarawak, Pahang, Johore, Kedah and Malacca. Labuan has a methanol plant”.
“After more than 30 years, can’t we produce even one Sabahan to occupy even one of the senior positions in Petronas and its subsidiaries?” queried Dompok.
Among his concluding remarks, Dompok pointed out the tussle between the civil and syariah courts in matters involving non-Muslims.
“Natives of Sabah who have Muslim-sounding names and ascribed a religion (wrongfully in their IC) can have a hard time making the necessary correction. Some have been advised to go to the Syariah Court to clear their religious status. How can someone who has never been a Muslim be subjected to the Syariah?” asked Dompok.
In concluding, Dompok thanked Abdullah who is on his way out for his services to the nation and warned that while “we can work for BN even in the most difficult circumstances, we are prepared to lose elections in protecting something right. We cannot go against our conscience or become apologists for other people”.
Two key events which unfolded in Umno within the space of a few months have influenced the race to replace the current Youth chief Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein.
Firstly, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced on July 10 that he will hand over power to his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Razak in June 2010 after massive rumblings and ramblings among the party rank-and-file following the results of the March 8 general election.
Many elements within and outside of Umno have blamed Abdullah and to a certain extent Khairy for the disastrous electoral performance suffered by Umno and the Barisan Nasional. Abdullah, in a magnanimous show of “leadership by example”, has gentlemanly offered to step down in a long drawn out transition plan. This has turned Khairy into unfortunate collateral damage in the political manoeuvres led by vice-president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to unseat Abdullah. Umno Youth leaders have been distancing themselves from Khairy ever since.
Grassroots leaders in Umno do not want to be seen with anyone whom they view as living on borrowed time. When a leader loses power or is perceived to be on the wane, his or her supporters will jump off the bandwagon and exit at the next stop where they perceive power is heading to.
This happened to Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah after he lost, albeit narrowly, in the party elections of 1987, as well as to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was unceremoniously dismissed in 1998, and Dr Mahathir too lost his core supporters within Umno after he stepped down in 2003. This time around it is Abdullah's time, and his so-called hardcore supporters are abandoning ship to jump on the trawler that bears the name Najib on it.
Secondly, Abdullah's announcement on Oct 8 that he will not be defending his presidency, indicating that he gave in to the groundswell of discontent among the Umno grassroots which was seemingly “created” by the political power play of Muhyiddin and Dr Mahathir.
This was almost the killer blow that Dr Mahathir and his son Mukhriz had been eagerly awaiting for. To them, Khairy will not be able to withstand the tsunami within Umno and will be left out of the Youth race totally.
The outcome of the divisional meetings has shown an obvious trend and the herd mentality within Umno. President — Najib, deputy president — Muhyiddin, vice-president — Hishammuddin and to a certain extent Datuk Zahid Hamidi and Datuk Shafie Apdal; and the Youth chief — Mukhriz. This is Najib's “cai tan” — list of leaders aligned or perceived to be aligned to Najib.
Rightly or wrongly, many people perceive that with the fall of Abdullah, so goes Khairy. However, not everyone within the Youth wing is willing to give Mukhriz a blank cheque in his pursuit for the Youth chief's post. After some 120-plus Youth divisional meetings, Mukhriz has only managed to capture barely half of the nominations. In the face of the supposedly “winds of change” within Umno and the Youth wing, Khairy has been able to hold his own and is just a few nominations shy from breaching the threshold of 39 nominations to be eligible to run for the Youth chief's post. Nevertheless, Mukhriz has zoomed to the lead in the number of nominations at a ratio of around 2:1 to Khairy, with only 60-odd Youth divisional meetings to go.
It is indeed troubling that a Youth wing of an established political organisation in the country is evaluating and selecting a leader based on perception of power, and not on capacity or capability. Mukhriz has called for Umno Youth to go “back to basics” and to become a pressure group within Umno, while Khairy has called for Umno Youth to reach out to the mostly non-partisan youth and for an end to right-wing politics. Nobody really understands what Khir Toyo stands for except that he represents the views of a typical grassroots leader — which can be seen by the respectable number of nominations he has received thus far — while Zahid can be termed as just another “joker”, using Dr Mahathir's term of the candidates (apart from Muhyiddin) in the deputy presidency race.
Mukhriz's idea of Umno Youth returning to its heady days is a step backwards for the movement. His intention of turning the wing into a pressure group, to be far to the right, will turn off even more youths at the sight of Umno. In an era where inclusiveness and moderation stands tall, the voice calling for a return to the protective and nationalistic stance is very inward looking and will embolden further hatred for Umno. In short, what Mukhriz aspires for Umno Youth is not something revolutionary, in fact it is a very digressive stance and may turn Umno Youth into a very chauvinistic wing.
Khairy took a very bold step in denouncing right-wing politics, the exact type of politics that Mukhriz is in favour of. Khairy's intention to reach out to the youths who are not within the party structure is an important measure to stifle Pakatan's growing influence among this group. However, Khairy has some credibility issues of his own as he was a right-wing politician himself while Youth vice-chief. Some of his actions — in pushing for the re-introduction of the New Economic Policy, the numerous slip-of-the-tongue episodes that angered the non Malays including BN component parties — did little to boost his flagging credibility.
Umno Youth has a choice of two very similar leaders — western educated, affable and young — with two very different ideas on the path that the movement should take. One veers too far to the right and in turn will hardened the already Malay-centric Youth wing. While the other acknowledges the measures required for the party to regain the support of the youth even though he is fighting credibility issues. One thing is for sure, whoever inherits the throne of the Youth wing, grassroots leaders will flock to him as the scent of power is too alluring to resist.
To many leaders and supporters, the outgoing king is Abdullah, and the new kingmaker is Dr Mahathir. Those who have been kissing Abdullah and even Khairy's hand before this are now turning to Dr Mahathir and Mukhriz to kiss theirs. They better hope they are kissing the right pair of hands come March '09.
In my opinion, this is very much an unfortunate aspect in Astro's business decison. The Indonesian channel is one of the most tuned on in the Astro programme especially for Indonesians working here. I can't speak for others but I know my kid will miss the nice shows. Me? I don't get to watch my Astro shows anymore since the kids started growing up. That's why I'm blogging...
The Malaysian Insider
Wednesday October 22 2008
JAKARTA, Oct 21 — Malaysian satellite TV operator Astro All Asia Networks Plc (Astro) yesterday switched off all broadcasting services to its Indonesian pay-TV arm PT Direct Vision in the latest chapter of a spat between two of Southeast Asia's wealthiest tycoons, Malaysian T. Ananda Krishnan and Indonesian James Riady.
The pay-TV venture is one of two known to be in trouble with the other one being a feud over managing property and hotel company Overseas Union Enterprise, which both jointly control, that is now under arbitration.
In a notice to the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange yesterday, Astro said as no payments had been received from PT DV since 2006, Astro's board of directors had decided to cease all support and services and to terminate the trademark licence agreement.
"As Astro has never been compensated for any of the approximately 2.5 trillion rupiah (RM750 million) in support and services that it has provided to PT DV and given that there has been no attempt by the Lippo Group to find an acceptable alternative to the previously proposed joint venture, and that Astro is not and has never been a shareholder in PT DV, this is clearly a situation that cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely," Astro legal counsel Todung Mulya Lubis was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times daily.
He added that Astro has yet to receive a single share in PT DV despite supporting the venture since February 2006 with the understanding that there will be arrangements to invest or being paid for support and services.
Astro had extended the cessation of services twice from Aug 30 to Sept 30. It was extended again to Oct 19, Astro said, adding it agreed to the extension as a gesture of goodwill.