A Display Of Ketuanan Or Idiocy ?

Malaysian Indians - courtesy of Dotmy.com.my
Malaysian Indians

For as long as I can remember a Malaysian Indian family lived on the ground floor of my late grandmother’s house in Teluk Intan.  The family is no longer there as thaatha had passed on and the children have all moved out after starting their own family.  That family was like an extended kin to us; helped our family when my grandmother passed away almost three decades ago.  My father allowed them to stay on even after that and never once, as far as I can recall, was the rent rate ever revised.  My father  never have allowed that to happen as he too was taught to be just to all races even though his late uncle was the first UMNO leader there, and my late grandfather the first secretary.

Which brings me to this post.  My friends and foes in UMNO would probably scream at me once they get to read this post, but it is a matter that I have to bring forth.

I have been made aware that the MIC Youth has had their request for allocation to the Youth and Sports Ministry for a youth programme involving 1,000 Indian youths from Malaysia and Singapore shot down by the latter – apparently without offered reasons.  The request was personally sent in by the MIC Youth Chief,  T Mohan to the Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports, Dato’ Razali Ibrahim.  However, I was made to understand that without even opening the envelope to read the content, Razali passed the letter on to his Special Officer.  The very next day, the Special Officer, when contacted, told MIC youth’s secretary, P Punithan that the Ministry had run out of allocations.  Punithan reluctantly accepted the reason (excuse, I would say) and asked if a Local Order could be issued, but was told that the Deputy Minister does not have a local order facility.  Now, I find that excuse quite absurd.

The above is apparently NOT the first time that such an incident has happened involving the MIC Youth and the said Ministry.  One wonders if the “Big Brother” attitude is back in business at this eleventh hour (with the General Elections just around the corner)?  Is it because Razali feels that Muar is a safe seat, oblivious to the fact that major voters’ registration process in major towns in Johor is taking place (and not organised by BN component parties)?  Or is it because the MIC Youth openly supports the UMNO Youth Chief, Khairy Jamaluddin?  If the latter is the case, they I do not find Razali a mature or professional politician (he is four years younger than I am).  I, too, have had issues with Khairy but I know where to draw the line when it comes to the importance of the community at large.  Differences aside, Khairy is still a better choice, commandingly, as a youth leader than Razali is.

I pity the Prime Minister because every time he tries to do something different and acceptable to virtually all, some jokers will drag his efforts down.  And when Najb tries to appeal to the nation stating that “No one will be left out in nation’s march towards progress“, people like Razali proves otherwise.

If the Malays really want to prove their “Ketuanan,” they ought to learn that respect has to be earned and commanded – not demanded. The only way this can be achieved is by being fair to and respecting fellow Malaysians, and not by shunning them.

13 Ghosts – Part Two

I received a comment from Encik Md Sha’ani bin Abdullah, Commissioner of SUHAKAM containing the media statement from the Chairman of SUHAKAM.  When I received the notification I was inside my car along Jalan Bandar, and I hoped that it would contain something new.  To be fair, this is what was sent.  Let me thank Encik Md Sha’ani for his comment:

KENYATAAN MEDIA
UNDANG-UNDANG TAHANAN PENCEGAHAN BERCANGGAH DENGAN PRINSIP HAK ASASI MANUSIA

Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia (SUHAKAM) meluahkan rasa amat kecewa dan terkejut dengan penangkapan terbaru 13 individu di bawah Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri 1960 (ISA) atas kegiatan gerakan militan di Sabah. Tindakan pihak berkuasa ini benar-benar mengejutkan dan sama sekali bertentangan dengan keputusan Perdana Menteri yang berani dan bersejarah untuk memansuhkan ISA serta pengiktirafan dan penghormatan terhadap hak asasi manusia serta perseimbangan antara hak tersebut dengan peraturan undang-undang dalam sistem demokrasi berparlimen negara – yang telah lama dinanti-nantikan dan amat dialu-alukan dengan sepenuh hati oleh rakyat.

Selaras dengan seruan yang telah dibuat sebelum ini agar undang-undang penahanan pencegahan dimansuhkan, Suruhanjaya menggesa agar pihak berkuasa membebaskan kesemua mereka yang ditahan di bawah undang-undang tersebut dan memberikan hak mereka kepada perbicaraan terbuka dengan diwakili peguam. Suruhanjaya juga menyeru Kerajaan supaya menghentikan penggubalan undang-undang yang membenarkan penahanan tanpa bicara dan agar menangani isu berkaitan keganasan di bawah undang-undang lain yang sedia ada; dan sementara pemansuhan ISA dibuat, tiada sebarang penangkapan akan dijalankan di bawah Akta ini.

-TAMAT-

“HAK ASASI UNTUK SEMUA”

TAN SRI HASMY AGAM
Pengerusi
Suruhanjaya Hak Assasi Manusia Malaysia (SUHAKAM)
18 November 2011

There was nothing new.  However, to be fair, I decided to post the media statement here so everyone could read it.  Honestly, I was hoping for something new, for SUHAKAM as a body formed via an Act of Parliament, to advise the Government on the course of action that should be taken – i.e the Act(s) that should have been used to deal with terrorism.  I was truly disappointed.  The statement underscores my point in a previous posting that SUHAKAM is acting more like a non-governmental organisation, than a body to assist the Government and law enforcement agencies on human rights.  When I say human rights, I do not just mean the rights of those arrested under the Internal Security Act, but also the rights of the majority to life, liberty and security of person as stated in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that the Commission religiously upholds.

Let me make myself clear on one issue: I AM NOT AN ADVOCATE OF THE INTERNAL SECURITY ACT for a simple reason: the Act allows the Minister to order the detention of a person or persons to a period of not more than two years, and may review the detention at the end of the period for a further period of not more than two years.  That is given by Section 8 of the Internal Security Act.  I would prefer the period of 60 days provided for in Section 73(3) of the Act, with the limitations set in Section 73(3)(a), (b) and (c) of the Act, but the order has to come from a High Court judge.  This is what I hope to see in the Anti-Terrorism Act that will be tabled in Parliament soon.

What was offered to me on Twitter as a suggestion to be used against terrorism by a SUHAKAM Comissioner is the Criminal Procedure Code.  In Section 28 of the CPC, a person arrested has to be produced without delay within 24-hours of his arrest in front of a Magistrate for arraignment.  This 24-hour period, though, has its own definition in the Interpretation Act when it comes to the weekends and public holidays.  This is something everyone needs to understand.  If the investigating officer finds that he cannot conclude the investigation within the given 24-hour period, he may, under Section 117 of the CPC, apply for an extension of the remand order.  The Magistrate will then decide if the remand period should be extended to facilitate investigations, and if so, decide on the number of days.  At the end of the extension period, the Magistrate may grant further extensions but the whole extension periods cannot exceed fifteen days in total.

Here, my friends, I would like to ask you: would 15 days be a reasonable period for the police to investigate the suspect’s/suspects’  involvement in terrorism, and that is to include the network, both local and international, of the organisation the suspect/suspects belong to?  What prevailing Act of Law, may I ask you, my dear friends, would allow the police to thoroughly probe and investigate the gravity of the case and network(s) involved?

(The following part in Italics was added at 3.15am, 21st November 2011)

To comment further on the suggestion by SUHAKAM in its media statement above that the Government should use other laws,  for any law to apply appropriately, the evidence must fall within the parameters of the law.  The Internal Security Act is still a valid law for terrorism, subversion, espionage and sabotage of certain kinds.  Other laws can be effectively used if the evidence collected can be adduced in court.  In most cases they can’t because witnesses are afraid to testify in an open court, and the police will not jeopardize the identity of their informants because it is not easy to replace a deep mole.

Whether we like it or not, in my opinion, the Internal Security Act is the prevailing Act of Law, for now, that would allow the police to nip terrorism before we get religious zealots representing whatever religious organisation, blowing themselves up, killing our family members and/or friends, in downtown Kuala Lumpur or Georgetown, during Christmas shopping rush period.

Think about it carefully.

The Internal Security Act is still valid, and it is still applicable.  And the threat and danger that we Malaysians and expats living in our country alike face, is very clear and very present.

Aftermath of a suicide bombing
The aftermath of a suicide bombing - is this what you want near where you live or work while we await the new Act of Law to be passed?

13 Ghosts

Ask anyone in Tawau what Kampung Ice Box would mean to them, a big majority would cite prevailing lawlessness. Tawau, being close to the border, has been facing numerous problems involving cross-border criminals.  Therefore, it is not surprising that of the 13 suspected Jemaah Islamiah (JI) militants arrested there recently, 6 are from a neighbouring country.  Not too long ago some 150 kilometers away, Abu Sayyaf terrorists kidnapped foreign tourists as well as Malaysian staff from resorts on Sipadan island, some 2 hours away by speedboat from the southern Philippines.

Upon the arrest of the 13 by the Malaysian authorities, PAS was among the first to criticise the arrests saying that since the Internal Security Act is about to be abolished, it should not be used.  The Commission for Human Rights of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) also criticised the move to arrest the 13 and demanded their release.

I was engaged on Twitter by a member of SUHAKAM on my criticisation of the  Commission for calling for the militants’ release. He cited Article 9 of the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights (UDHR). The Article says no one Should be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.  What he fail to realise is the rights of the majority should be held paramount. What about my rights to safety and security? Lest we forget under the same Declaration, I have a right under Article 3 which states that Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. Shouldn’t SUHAKAM be defending those rights too? Should SUHAKAM not weigh the interest of the majority versus the rights of the 13 militants? Maybe I should remind SUHAKAM that Article 29(2) of the Declaration sets the limits to one’s freedom; THEREFORE one’s freedom is NOT an absolute right.

Maybe SUHAKAM needs to revisit the mandate that was given to the body via Act597 and that is to promote human rights education, Advise on legislation and policy, and investigate human rights abuse – NOT act as a NGO. And please if any of the Commissioners read law, please get a refund.

And for those who say that the ISA is no longer applicable, if you find any Ringgit note of yours that was signed by Ismail Ali, please collect them and give to me as Ismail Ali is no longer the Governor of Bank Negara, therefore by your definition the notes are no longer legal tender.

I don’t want Malaysians or foreigners killed in Malaysia because we fail to nip terrorism in the bud.

Cronyism and Nepotism

Fresh back from England and jobless I went up to my father and asked him for RM5.  He asked me why do I need RM5 for and I told him maybe I felt like going out for some roti canai with my brother, or something else.  He retorted:

“Do you know how much time does a Constable have to put in just to earn RM5? If you don’t have anything useful to spend RM5 on, don’t ask for any!”

My father used to get lots of coupons for free fast food meals to last the whole family a life time.  All we could do was watch him give away these coupons to friends and relatives, none was left for any of us.

That was how my father taught us, the way he brought us up.  I ended up as a tough nut in the Armed Forces that I used to reject a lot of wet rations sent to the cookhouse whenever I was the Duty Officer that one day the supplier asked the Chief Steward if I had a price.  The Staff Sergeant replied:

“You would stand a better chance wringing water out from a rock.”

Integrity is what we were all taught to have, no fear nor favour should we accept from anyone.  In my current line of work I can easily earn millions a month if I want to but I value my job, my integrity and my family’s dignity.

Which is why I find it wrong for Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil to have allowed her family to receive government assistance for the National Feedlot project that may or may have not come to a nought.  Whether or not members of her family are capable, certified or whatever have you, is besides the point.  She is a cabinet minister and her family members should have known not to abuse/misuse/take advantage of her position as one.  She has definitely removed herself from the list of winnable candidates for the next general elections, and by her staying on, will only cause people to say that Najib protects cronies.  Perhaps, the best course of action for her is to go on leave pending investigations; however, I personally would ask her to resign in order to save Barisan Nasional canvassers from having to answer on her behalf come GE13.

Nepotism and cronyism is something that needs to be eradicated, no matter which side of the political fence you are on.

Talking about cronyism, we have one young fart advising the Menteri Besar of Johor for the Iskandar Region Development Authority.  When I say young fart I mean someone who would not have had enough experience underneath his belt to even be the CEO of a public-listed company, let alone advising on a whole economic region.  Not unless he graduated from Lincoln’s Inn at the age of 14, but I, too, have a cousin who graduated from Lincoln’s Inn but I don’t think she’s much of an anything.  How on earth did he get to be in that position?  God, and a few other people might know.  I don’t. But my layman brain tells me you have to be someone’s crony to be in a position as important as that –  and what more at that young age.

Wan Firdaus, along with a Level Four legacy, Zaki Zahid, were recently appointed to the board of DRealty and Kulim, both in JCorp’s stable.  Maybe Zaki’s appointment may not be so bad as he has had some experience being in MRCB before this, but Wan Firdaus?  Neither of them are from Johor which makes me wonder if, out of 4 million or so Johoreans, are none fit to run their state’s company?

Maybe, just maybe Menteri Besar Dato’ Abdul Ghani Othman might want to look for outside talents, looking in may not be so good for Johor.  But maybe he could answer this: is there any non-Sabahan in SEDCO?

There is already a lot of cry of foul-play by local contractors for being left out by IRDA and IIB for the Iskandar region jobs, yet all we see are more and more of outsiders coming into the region, grabbing what they can.

Perhaps Ghani is still in a comfort zone and still sees Johor as Barisan Nasional’s fixed deposit or a bastion of some sort.

Don’t ask me for hard-facts and figures and so on, I am just a layman looking in.  But what I see is not something that I like.

Water, Water, Everywhere? Part 2

Dirty Water

Not too long ago if you go to a government office to get an application form, it would be left either in a tray or in a box for you to take and you would see each person taking more forms than they needed.  Some would end up as kacang puteh wrappers sold by kacang puteh peddlers on bicycles parked outside the very government office.

BECAUSE THEY WERE FREE!

Nowadays, you have to pay RM1 per form, and you can see that each person would take only one form.  Anything that is free has no value.

What I am getting at is, if you give something to someone for free, most of the time it would go to waste, or taken for granted.  The same goes to the free first 20 cubic meters of water given to residents of Selangor by the Pakatan Rakyat government.  In the words of Prof Dr Chan Ngai Weng (Universiti Sains Malaysia and Penang Water Watch):

“The water policy of that (Selangor) state is suicidal!”

He said this during the 1st Malaysian Water Association – Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Roundtable Dialogue titled “Water Has No Value” on Friday, 28th October 2011.

Interestingly, the Seceretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon also underscored this point.  On 3rd August 2011, he told the United Nations General Assembly that water, as Basic Human Right, has a market price.

“Let us be clear,” he asserted, “a right to water and sanitation does not mean that water should be free.”

Let us face the fact.  Water really has no value in Malaysia. On average the water tariff in Malaysia is at 20 US cents per liter or 60 sen.  An average person in Malaysia uses 203 liters per day.  In a month the person would be using up to 6 cubic meters of water.  An average Malaysian family (5 members) would then use up to 30 cubic meters per month.  Therefore, an average family will be paying RM18.27 per month for the use of treated water.  That is the equivalent of an hour and a half of calls from your mobile phone.  You cannot even take the NKVE from KL to Shah Alam and back on that amount.   Water tariffs in Malaysia simply does not meet the cost of producing treated water for the masses.  Therefore, the water service providers in Malaysia really need to look at restructuring the water tariff by increasing the tariffs to a level that reflects the cost price, and a surcharge for those who use more treated water than the national per capita average.  The public will also have to be educated on the cost of water treatment and production through engagement sessions with SPAN, NGOs and the service providers.

Apart from that, the service providers would also have to prove to consumers that it has taken steps to plug Non-Revenue Water (NRW).  Mind you, we have some 131,000km of water pipelines, 25% of those are made from asbestos-cement and they can easily deteriorate, crack or break altogether.  Our average NRW stands at 36%.  The Asian Development Bank stated that in Asian cities, the NRW averages 30% of water production, but ranges from 4% to 65%, posing as a deterrent to the recovery of production costs.  To plug NRW is costly but has to be done to the point where it would be economically viable to do so.  The panelists of the above dialogue agreed that 25% would be the acceptable level of NRW for Malaysia, and that should be the target for water service providers to achieve over the next few years.

South-East Asia's NRW 2003 (% of System Input)

Another challenge is to protect the water catchment areas.  The value chain starts at water catchment areas and therefore it is imperative that state governments take steps to protect these areas by gazetting them under a specific Act for Water Catchment Areas, and not as it is now, under the Forestry Act.  We often find water resources polluted by human activities in these areas such as logging (legal and illegal), farming, plantation, manufacturing, animal husbandry and indiscriminate dumping of rubbish despite having these areas gazetted under the Forestry Act.  Therefore, protecting water catchment areas is vital to ensure clean and continuous water supply.  The general public needs to be educated on the importance of preserving water catchment areas so they could act as the extra eyes and ears for enforcement authorities.

The biggest challenge, of course, is to depoliticize water.  Water, like the nuclear issue, should best be left to the experts, and not politicians who are self-proclaimed experts.  The current tussle on various water issues by both the ruling government and the opposition over the Langat 2 project is not helping, nor is the war on who has the lowest water tariffs.  When Penang increased its water tariffs, it was the best move yet it was politically lambasted by the BN government.  Face the fact: things are not getting any cheaper and the same goes to the treatment and supply of water.  And to the Selangor state government, stop hoodwinking the public any further.  Based on a projection up to July 2011, the water supply in Selangor is at 4,122 million liters per day (MLD) while the existing capacity is only at 4,326 MLD.  That gives us all a mere 1,204 MLD or 4.7% buffer.  If anything were to happen to any two water treatment plants in Selangor, our taps will run dry for several days at least.  Therefore, the Langat 2 treatment plant needs to be built like yesterday already.

Remember: Malaria, Tuberculosis, rising food prices, environmental degradation – all these have a common denominator: WATER.