Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Whose Line is it Anyway? Featuring Robin Williams

Robin Williams is one of my all-time favourite comedian/actors. I thought I should include this as all of us deserve a few good laughs during these trying times. I hope you guys enjoy this as much I do.

Dompok: Tide Against The BN In Sabah

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”.

Harris Turns Tables On Pairin Over Bullying Claim

Now this looks interesting! Harris Salleh, Sabah Former Chief Minister, has lashed back at Joseph Pairin Kitingan over the bullying claim. Harris has always been known to be one of Dr Mahathir Mohamed's staunchest allies. So it is only natural that Harris would defend Dr M.

However, PBS might rebut Harris' statement with the 1984 By-election where Pairin won his Tambunan constituency as an Independent candidate. After the win, the Berjaya government decided to 'bully' Tambunan by cutting it off from the State Government's development plan. This is to show the Tambunan constituents the importance of voting a government candidate. The scheme backfired and cost Berjaya the State Government when PBS won the General Election of 1985.

All of these events happened because of the word "bully". We'll see how PBS will respond to this in tomorrow's news.
Daily Express

Wednesday, 22nd October 2008

Kota Kinabalu: Former Chief Minister Datuk Harris Salleh said it was Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan And Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) that bullied former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed as well the people of Sabah when it was running the State Government.

"Not only it is not true, but it is also irresponsible and vexatious," he said in refuting Pairin's earlier remark that PBS was bullied by Dr Mahathir's UMNO-led Barisan Nasional.

Pairin's remark on Monday about bullying by Dr Mahathir was in response to a statement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that UMNO never bullied its Barisan Nasional partners.

Harris said in his statement, Tuesday, that one instance of bullying by PBS was when it pulled out of the ruling coalition just a few weeks before the General Election in 1990.

"It was through its connection on the Mamut Copper Mine, that it formed a pact with Gerakan to pull out of the BN. However, Gerakan chickened out at the last minute.

"Pairin became desperate to get back into BN and lobbied a few prominent people, including the late Tan Sri Wee Boon Ping, who managed to persuade Dr Mahathir to bring PBS eventually back into the Barisan," he claimed. Harris said another time when Pairin acted like a bully when he ignored the commitment and contract signed between the Berjaya Government and 60,000 smallholders."

He claimed that Pairin had insisted then that it (the contract) "was not binding because there was in fact no land available and that the Berjaya Government was simply bluffing the  smallholders."

He said what the PBS Government then did was to alienate most of the 906,300 acres reserved by the Berjaya Government to cronies and the PBS government supporters who then sold these lands to peninsula companies.

Harris further claimed that as a result, more than 90 percent of these lands in Sabah today are now owned by peninsula companies and that Tan Sri Joseph Kurup's statements in the Land Office would confirm this.

He also accused Pairin and PBS leaders of having "perfected the art of twisting facts", as well as the Labuan issue. "The so-called privatisation of government properties, the alienation of land reserved by developers for car parks, children's playgrounds in the City and town areas of Sabah were mostly alienated by PBS to its supporters and cronies.

"PBS bullied the people of Sabah into electing it again and again," he said, and lamented also the actions and decisions of the Federal leadership, including Dr Mahathir, would prefer and want people to be in their win-win club.

"You win we will be with you. You lose, bye-bye. These have been the established attitude and practice until these days by the UMNO leadership," he said.

Harris added that favouritism in awarding negotiated contracts is a big factor. He said any leader of the component parties could argue and challenge the BN leadership to put things right.

"However, since most of the component party leaders are obliged to curry favour and give support because of expected favours, the moral question of right or wrong is normally and usually thrown overboard."

Harris said his statement were based on facts and was prepared to have a public debate with any leaders, especially Pairin and the PBS leaders, on the subject of bullies, wrongdoings, ICs and so on.

Bernama SMS 22/10/08

KL 22/10: Foreign workers in Malaysia send home RM9.124 bln for 1st 6 months, says DPM Najib. Estimates for this year at RM18.1 bln/BERNAMA

MalaysiaKini SMS 22/10/08

22/10: DPM Najib Razak said he was satisfied with apology from Malaysiakini over report on a manifesto which was wrongly attributed to him./MKINI

Khairy's political fortunes have plunged; now he is fighting for votes

After reading this article, 2 things went through my mind; 1) He is finally accepting reality as it is  2) He is willing to go down fighting. It is always a challenge for anybody to gauge power at such frightening heights. No matter how intelligent and articulate one may be but whenever it comes to power, it will always be a struggle to remain centred. That's why it is important that leaders should practice humility as it will help the leader to make insightful decisions. He had his chances and screwed up big time. 

However, after having said all that, Khairy Jamaluddin still has a lot to answer for his actions once upon a time when he was the most powerful man in the country...

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22 - It would be an understatement to say Khairy Jamaluddin, the son-in-law of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, has had a rough few weeks.

His political fortunes have plummeted from dizzying heights and the unthinkable has happened. He is struggling to qualify to contest the Umno Youth presidency when, not so long ago, it would have been his for the taking.

More than half the 191 Umno divisions have met to nominate the candidates and Khairy has picked up just 36 nominations. His nemesis Mukhriz Mahathir, son of former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has sped ahead with 64 nominations.

Khairy needs another three to qualify to run for the post, and he will get them. But it is startling how fast his star has faded. "Clearly, it appears as though I am the underdog candidate. It seems that Mukhriz is the favourite candidate now. I am going to persevere," he said, without betraying any hint of anxiety.

Indeed, he was surprisingly relaxed, and happy to talk about his year-old son Jibreil Ali Jamaluddin Abu Bakar whose photographs are displayed everywhere in his elegant office in the swanky Damansara Heights

He is married to Nori Abdullah, PM Abdullah's only daughter, whom he met seven years ago when they worked at a think-tank in Kuala Lumpur. They are expecting their second son in January.

Even before his marriage, Khairy had entered the innermost circle of PM Abdullah, and tales of his alleged influence, exact and exaggerated, spread far and wide. He became a caricature. Today, he is paying the
price for that reputation.

"If you look at the overall political situation now, that's one of the reasons why I find myself the underdog today," he said.

He is, of course, referring to the tidal wave of anger against his father-in-law, whom Umno blames for its poor performance at the March general election. Abdullah has decided not to contest the Umno presidency, and will retire by March next year.

"As much as I tried to divorce this entire thing from the Prime Minister, obviously that sentiment still remains. I won't say that it's a disadvantage but it's a political reality that I have to live with and overcome," said Khairy.

Saying that he has been made the "most convenient scapegoat" for the election losses, he hopes to salvage his fortunes over the next few months.

Political observers have not written him off. Khairy, 32, is among a rare breed of politicians who have a talent for clear thinking and sharp strategising. The Oxford-educated politician is acknowledged even by his critics as highly intelligent and articulate.

Further, he is young, by any measure, for the role that he aspires to. And it is not the premiership. He smiles when asked about the persistent rumour that he wants to be premier by 40.

"I've never said it, I've never written it down and, actually, I've never even thought it until somebody said it. It's just one of those things that people have ascribed to me. Of course not," he said.

Still, the Umno Youth chief is a senior-enough post, and usually comes with a senior government post. The current Youth chief Hishammuddin Hussein is Education Minister.

Khairy is mindful of this and, in fact, stresses many times that the party election has implications not just for Umno, but also for the country.

He points out that while Umno Youth has 700,000 members, there are five million voters under 40. "At some stage, we are going to be a maturing democracy where party membership will be very small. And there are going to be a lot more people out there who are going to be undecided voters, party-less voters. We must change our outlook," he said.

This is why he is taking a bold, some say foolhardy, move to base his campaign on a platform of multiracialism and government reforms.

One of the biggest issues at the moment, he says, is the pro-Malay affirmative action programmes of the New Economic Policy (NEP).

"I've said from the beginning that although the NEP-type policy is still necessary, we have to reform it so that it does not enrich just a very small segment of the Malay population."

He added: "That's why young Malays run away from us today - they think the NEP is being abused. It's not a never-ending story. Some day, we have to go out on our own."

These are not traditional Umno issues. Its grassroots have little interest in national matters, and are resistant to reforms perceived as diluting Malay dominance."I've gone out on a limb to say that I'm contesting this
Umno leadership not as a Malay, but as a Malaysian. I want the Umno Youth to understand that they cannot be in isolation anymore," Khairy said.

"If we continue to be an incestuous organisation, and care only about ourselves, what change are we talking about?" he asked.

It's not typical Umno talk but it makes for astute positioning. It marks him out as more visionary than his two likely contenders for the post - Mukhriz and former Selangor mentri besar Khir Toyo. Both are also
championing change, but stop short of taking a multiracial line.

Khairy runs up against two obstacles: Umno's resistance and his own image as a Malay ultra.

It is an image hard to live down. Last week, a Malaysian Chinese Association Youth member demanded that  Khairy be arrested under the Internal Security Act for allegedly questioning the quota of scholarships
for non-Malays.

- The Straits Times

Dizzying Scent Of Power In UMNO Youth

From the moment PM Ahmad Abdullah Badawi announced that he won't be defending the UMNO Presidency, Khairy Jamaluddin support base plummeted. This is an interesting episode to watch as this shows that UMNO members only recognizes one thing: Power. Being in a political party in Malaysia is all about the power and money. That's why so many people are drawn towards politics. It's not about the welfare of the citizens but about boosting their own actualization/net profit whatchamaycallit.

I understand that the current PM is a gentleman. He knows he cannot stop the internal mutiny and rather than risking a split within the party, he opted out of the Presidential race. I don't know whether people would see it this way eventually. According to my politician relative, he finds that the PM is a good man who listens to the wrong advisors. Normally in a political organization, the sharks would strike upon the followers first before they sink their teeth upon the master. I think that's what happened with that Oxford graduate.

A friend of mine said to me few years ago that he encountered the PM through one of his people. My friend said he had to pay upfront money just to go and see him. He never disclosed the amount and I never asked. It appears that every businessmen are doing this.

What's my point in saying all this?

I'm saying whatever it is, the System we're in is so entrenched within that any proposed changes would be difficult to achieve. So in the future whether its Najib Razak or Anwar Ibrahim become the future Premier, nothing will change. For all we know, the March 8 Political Tsunami happened because Mahathir Mohamad so allowed it to...

The Malaysian Insider
Wed. October 22 2008
OCT 21 — The recent Umno Youth divisional meetings have seen nominations for the new Youth chief taking an unexpected turn. Exco member Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir has left his archrival and current Youth vice-chief Khairy Jamaluddin in his wake by leaping to the lead with 63 nominations whilst Khairy trails with 36. Supreme council member Datuk Khir Toyo is not far behind with 27 nominations and Perlis Umno deputy liaison chief Zahidi Zainul Abidin has only his own division Padang Besar as his sole nominator to be grateful for.

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.

ASTRO Switches Off Indonesian Service

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.

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