The Malay Sybarites

This is a bit overdue. With all the “bangang” accusations being thrown to and fro between pro-UMNO bloggers (I was made there are several camps with different paymasters) and the independent pro-BN bloggers, I decided to hold the issue for a while until things have quieten down.  I am not exactly a pro-BN blogger, nor do I have any love for the opposition and their loose coalition, nor that I am a paid blogger as I have never had to use political connections to feed my family in any way whatsoever.  I am the simple nine-to-five, salary-earning employee who watches what goes on around him and voices out once in a while when things are not right.  The “bangangs” then would be those who are chosen by the rakyat to govern on the rakyat’s behalf yet think they can do no wrong and are above criticisms.

The reason for the title above is because people don’t find it bordering on racism if I bash the Malays.  Malay-bashing, in Malaysia, is not racist at all and outsiders (non-Malaysians) are often invited to bash the Malays as well.  Furthermore, being a Malay, it would make me a racist to bash those from my own race.  However, be advised that while what I will write will orbit around the title above, with a broader mental horizon you would be able to see that what follows may also apply to other races.  Of course, to maintain a non-racist post, I shall name my victims collectively as the Malays.

Like it or not, the UMNO of today is a far cry compared to the UMNO people of my age or older were.  I touched on how the late Tun Razak was when it came to shouldering the responsibilities the post of Prime Minister burdened him with.   In my opinion, UMNO was and is still regarded by those who join it as a platform to make money on the pretext of helping the Malays.  Mind you, the same phenomena also exists in other political parties on both sides of the fence.  You would not have seen this in the initial phase of the Barisan Alternatif; you’re seeing this now in the Pakatan-ruled states.  The saying “power corrupts” still holds true.

When one joins UMNO (or any other political party for that matter), it is almost always on the invitation by someone who already is a member.  The new member will first be introduced to the introducer’s circle of “friends” who will have a Padrone, who is either the Branch Head, or the Deputy Branch Head.  Then comes the need to champion whoever the Padrone is in order to put him in place, and make sure the Padrone’s people fill up as many committee posts as possible.  This is then replicated at the Division level.  Getting into the Division’s Padrone’s good books allows one Branch Padrone to solicit small contracts as a Bumiputera Class ‘F’ contractor, which job then gets sub-contracted to (almost always) a non-Bumi contractor.  This simply means that at times, a non-Bumi contractor will become a project-financier, or finance the bid for contracts that are meant for Bumiputera contractors simply because the Malay contractors are a lazy lot and all they want is big bucks for less or no work done.  So, for those who whine about inequality, please bear in mind that the Bumiputeras are only allocated 30 percent while the non-Bumiputeras have 70 percent to grab.  Demographically, 61.4 percent of the population are allocated 30 percent of the opportunities to make wealth while the other 38.6 percent (of which the Chinese make up 24.6 percent) have the 70 percent opportunities to make wealth.

You see the above also happening in the Pakatan-run states albeit with different mechanisms.  Same goal, nevertheless.

Money begets power, and with every party election, more money has to be made in order to retain the power and position to make money – and this is true on both sides of the political fence. Hence, you see absolute nepotism in parties like PKR and DAP, while cronyism remains rife in other political parties.  You have cronies becoming CEOs of important companies; young brats who cannot even make proper presentations.  Then you have the opposition condemning such arrangements as being non-ethical when they themselves do it in government machineries in the states that they control.  What makes it worse are those who continuously condemn the government in public and on social media, yet thrive on servicing government contracts.

Political parties and members no longer lead the monastic way of life as how the political parties and members were back in the 1950s, 1960s and the 1970s.  The uplines, if you must, live lavishly, while their downlines slog to maintain this while trying to earn some crumbs for themselves as religious acolytes would.  I don’t know how UMNO, or any other political party went down the drain this way, but this greed must have predicated on a system that was created perhaps in the late 1980s.  I have not made any mention of PAS because PAS is in a league of its own, abusing religion for its own survival as if it exists to represent God on Earth.

How do we change all this?  In my opinion it would take a miracle for this to change.  As long as the young idolise their sybarite leaders, this country will continue to slide into the cesspool of failed nations.  Perhaps, changing the system would help arrest the rot, but it would take political will to effect change.  And that is where we need miracles!


Speed Kills


My previous posting is deemed relevant.

On 30th October 2012, the UMNO Youth called on the government to defer the implementation of the Automated Enforcement System (AES) to review the weaknesses in the implementation of the system, and the suitability of the location of the AES cameras deployed.

Looking at my Twitter timeline, I see that many are afraid of how the AES might impact the livelihood of the road users. Which means that the implementation of the AES, albeit still in its infancy, has already begun to have an impact on the attitude of road users. Anyhow, of course there will be those who would oppose it for the sake of opposing.

According to MIROS, passenger cars including SUVs, and four-wheeled drive vehicles are the most common types of vehicles involved in the overall investigated cases for 2007 through 2010. Motorcycles are among the lowest vehicle type involved in the investigated cases throughout the said period. Straight and flat roads also contributed higher number of accidents compared to curved roads throughout the same period. 60 percent of those accidents were contributed by speeding, next highest was risky driving, both are factors/offences that could be detected by the AES.

Opponents may argue that the quality of our roads are not up to international standards. However, the World Economic Forum’s 2012 Global Competitiveness Report states that Malaysia’s road quality is ranked 21st out of 139 countries and scored a 5.7 out of 7. In comparison, save for Singapore, we scored better than Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, so much so that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) of the Philippines said that the government of the Philippines would look at Malaysia “as a benchmark in terms of quality of roads.”

Are our speed limits too slow then? Both Japan and Australia have speed limits lower than ours at 100km/h. As a matter of fact, you are only given a lee-way of three per cent over and above the posted speed limit before you are sent to jail. In the US, speed limit on the highways is capped at 70mph, a mere 2km/h more than ours.

What about our weather? Or lighting? Throughout the MIROS study period from 2007 through 2010, most accidents occur in fair weather and during day time.

Our only problem is enforcement. In my opinion, our enforcement of traffic rules has a lot to be desired. It is always a favourite talk that the traffic policemen are always out there to squeeze a RM50 note or two out of you when they stop you. The problem is, most of those who whine about this fact are mostly those who make no qualms about giving bribes. The AES allows enforcement to take place automatically. A habitual traffic offender or a habitual bribe-giver would not have the opportunity to “slow-talk” or bribe a policeman, and best of all, these traffic policemen can be deployed to help law-abiding citizens brave the jam better during rush hour times.

The argument that the locations of the AES cameras are unsuitable or may be overkill considering the number of cameras deployed versus the number of accident-prone areas listed by the police is without substance. Are those who argue on that point implying that drivers will not speed or accidents will not occur at other stretches where accidents are less likely to happen?

The other argument that AES cameras would contribute to more accidents happening is also baseless. Am I to believe that a driver would be looking out for the AES cameras rather than pay attention to the road? How many accidents have happened because drivers look out more for the more mobile policeman with the speed gun? Perhaps these people ought to provide the statistics to back their claim within the next 24 hours :).

And how effective is the AES in reducing the number of accidents?

In 2008 in the UK, Robert Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety said, “A four-year evaluation of their effectiveness concluded that 100 lives were saved every year.” The same study concluded that there was a 40% reduction in the number of deaths and injuries on roads with speed cameras. Road deaths, he says, fell below 3,000 for the first time last year and speed is a contributing factor in one in three road deaths. If you go back 10 years ago, “70% of drivers driving in free-flow traffic broke the 30mph speed limit. Now it’s 49%. There has been a big decrease in the deaths of pedestrians, and that is partly due to cameras in urban areas.” There are 6,000 speed cameras deployed in the UK.

In Australia, the New South Wales state government has conducted its first annual review of the effectiveness of speed cameras, finding more than 95 per cent of them are having a positive effect on reducing fatal crashes and injuries. Fatalities fell by 87 per cent and crashes by 38 per cent in the areas around fixed speed cameras, according to a report released in July 2012 by the NSW Centre for Road Safety.

In the five years before the cameras were installed, there were 3959 crashes in the zones around these speed cameras, resulting in 61 deaths and 2124 injuries. But in the recent five-year period, there were 2451 crashes, resulting in eight fatalities and 1344 injuries. The acting general manager of the centre, Marg Prendergast, said the report proved cameras were overwhelmingly effective. The report also found that the number of infringements dropped over time, suggesting the cameras motivated people to slow down.

So, why is there a call for a deferment of the AES? Why is this call made nine years after the study into its implementation was made? And what do the opponents of the AES mean by suggesting that the government ought to study the implementation of the AES thoroughly? Do they mean that the government had hastily jumped into doing something after nine years of mulling about the system? Is the speed of the implementation going to kill the Barisan Nasional’s chance of obtaining a simple majority during the next general elections? Or is the speed of the call for the deferment going to kill BN’s chance of obtaining a simple majority for flip-flopping on its drive to save lives?

What would kill with speed BN’s chances of obtaining a simple majority? The government flip-flopping on a policy laid out by an MCA Minister after being pressured by half-past-six young turks from UMNO. It would only mean the government thrives on a populist approach with blatant disregard for the voters’ safety; AND that UMNO has not shelved its perceived bullying of other BN component members (paragraph added at 0945 hours, 1 Nov 2012).

And for those who think that the AES will only enrich cronies because you have nothing better to think of other than using the same line for different BN-bashing lines, stop speeding, abide by the law, then you don’t get summoned, and none of your money will go to the cronies. Simple, right?

Implement the AES. If there is improvements to be done to its system, do it as you go along, for the journey towards safety is a never-ending journey.

Remember, speed kills. Someone might just hit your child or spouse, or parents and kill them, so think about it!

Proportionally Worse In Four Years

20121024-122558.jpgThe anger towards the AES system (pic by Fella Firdaus)

I cannot understand the negative reception by certain quarters from both sides of the political fence towards the Automatic Enforcement System (AES). While short-sighted members of the Barisan Nasional say that the installation of the AES will cause middle-income supporters to switch allegiance to the Pakatan Rakyat, the Pakatan Rakyat supporters played its usual game of saying the AES was awarded to enrich cronies.

Maybe, a memory-jogger is appropriate for both.

According to the WHO’s Global Status Report on Road Safety (2009), road traffic injuries is the leading cause of death for people between 15-19 years of age. It is the second leading cause of death for those between 5-14 years of age; third for those between 30-44. 90 percent of road fatalities happen in low and middle-income countries.

In 2009, a report from MIROS (Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research) states that we had 3.7 deaths per 10,000 vehicles when the global benchmark is two. We had 23.5 deaths per 100,000 population when the global benchmark is 10.

Fatalities by mode of transport shows that in 2008, motorcycles contributed to 60 percent of the fatalities followed by cars at 20 percent, while the age groups of 16-20 and 21-25 contributed 977 and 937 deaths respectively. That is 1,914 voters and potential voters gone in just one year.

Those from the Barisan Nasional should recognise that when a family member dies, very seldom do we see family members accepting the blame for the deceased’s recklessness. The blame will normally fall on the opposite party involved in the accident, or the government for not doing anything to mitigate or lessen the probability of accidents occurring.

For Pakatan Rakyat, it is very easy for them to point at Barisan Nasional saying that the AEs is nothing but a means to enrich cronies. Lest we forget in the four years that they have been in power in certain states, we hear of corruption in those states. Kedah has been awarding contracts to five unregistered contractors to undertake projects involving Taman Seri Gemilang, Seberamg Terus flats, Taman Wira, Alor Malai flats, Simpang Kuala flats, Tongkang Yard flats and Taman Kota Nelayan.

To make matters worse, the directors of the five companies are all relatives.

In Penang, we hear of the Bayan Mutiara and PPRT land sale issues. In Perak, during the short two years Pakatan Rakyat was in power, cousins Nga Kor Ming and Ngeh Koo Ham ruled Perak by proxy, and we all know of the ceremonial dress or suit tailoring contract involving a relative of at least one of the two. The conduct of the two was to the point of being ad nauseam that delegates at the recent Perak DAP Convention lambasted the two for their undemocratic ways.

DAP.jpgThe anger towards Teresa Kok (pic courtesy of Mynewshub)

In Selangor where DAP also rules by proxy, we should never forget why the late Teoh Beng Hock was called in by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC). We should not forget what case was being investigated by the MACC, and who benefits the most from Beng Hock’s permanent silence. Just because Beng Hock was a Chinese, and BN has a Malay-majority party in it, don’t turn it into a Malay versus Chinese thing. It could have been a Chinese whacking a Chinese thing too!

Little Napoleons from DAP also rule Selangor. Kinrara voters, who voted for Teresa Kok in GE12, are now angry with her for being greedy, holding seven posts, thus neglecting her voters. Others that are being targeted include Ronnie Liu and Tony Pua.

The anger towards cronyism and nepotism practised by the office-holders of DAP has prompted some DAP grassroots to form a movement called the Liberos. This movement consists of DAP loyalists who had hoped for a DAP government that would make a difference, instead got disenfranchised when those elected did not become people-oriented, egotistic, selfish and greedy, so much so that DAP now stands for Daddy-Anak-Party or Developers Association of Penang. DAP leaders are quick to punish critiques while cronies are spared. The above are among the reasons for DAP’s Orang Asli rep, Bah Tony, to quit the so-called socialist democratic party recently.

So, for those who claim the AES only benefits BN cronies, be aware that cronyism and nepotism is rife and alive within Pakatan Rakyat itself, and I think what goes within PKR is academic. There was not even a proper party election to begin with, and its supremo was not even elected.

The idea of having the AES was mooted 10 years ago, while studies were conducted in 2003. And unlike the tender process (if any) in the Pakatan Rakyat-held states, the tender-selection committee involved members from the MACC, the Treasury and the Attorney-General’s Office.

If you think there is hanky-panky involving the AES, report to the MACC instead of whining. We have the machinery in place, use it. If you don’t use it, then you are just whining because you are a habitual traffic offender.

For Barisan Nasional members who are against the AES, grow up and wise up. Stop looking at your pockets and start protecting the lives of the Rakyat.

Shame on you all for objecting to the AES!