The Israeli In KL

When Israeli diplomat David Roet attended a United Nations conference in Kuala Lumpur recently, the Opposition went into full swing trying to discredit the government saying that it wants to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

In a statement, the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) explicitly states that the invitations to the Israeli delegates was issued by the UN as per Article III of the Host Country Agreement signed by the organisation and Malaysia so that the UN is able to conduct its conferences away from any of its established headquarters.

IMG_6292.

The Article states, in part, that the Forum shall be opened to all UN member states and its Specialised Agencies. This was confirmed by Israel’s Hadashot TV which reported that Malaysia was compelled to host the Israelis, since it was required to grant visas to all delegations in order to hold the international conference.  Therefore, it is immaterial whether or not Malaysia has diplomatic relations with Israel.  It is for the same reason that Fidel Castro was able to attend the UN summit in New York in 1976, 1995 and 2000.

Malaysia-Israeli Relations

IMG_6307

If you walk along Jalan Zainal Abidin in Pulau Pinang which is just off Burmah Road near the Tune Hotel, you will come across an old cemetery.  That is a Jewish Cemetery.  Jalan Zainal Abidin was once called Jalan Yahudi or Jew Street, the only evidence that a Jewish enclave once existed on the island.

Israel first established contact with our pre-independence government in 1956 when Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharett visited Malaya to propose the appointment of an Israeli consul in Malaya.  Israel also voted in favour of the Malayan bid to become a UN member in 1957.  Trade between the two countries was in place.  This was banned in 1974, after the Yom Kippur war, but indirect trade (through third countries) was in place.

An Opposition supporter was quick to point out that according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, between 2008 and 2011 trade between the two countries fluctuated considerably.  Israel’s exports to Malaysia peaked at USD798 million in 2010 while imports from Malaysia peaked in 2011 at USD93.6 million.

Although the preriod shown above shows the statistics was for the period between the end of Abdullah Badawi’s administration and the commencement of the Najib Razak administration, the flourish in trade could be traced back to the Mahathir administration.  In December 1993, as a consequence of the Oslo I Accord, Mahathir wrote a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

IMG_6303
Mahathir’s letter to Yitzhak Rabin in December 1993

The photo of the letter may be a bit difficult to read but I shall provide the transcript here:

PRIME MINISTER, MALAYSIA

21 December 1993

His Excellency Mr Yitzhak Rabin Prime Minister of Israel, JERUSALEM

I would like to thank you for your letter of 17 October informing me about the Agreement of Principles and Mutual Recognition between Israel and the PLO.

My government supports this positive development and views it as a first step towards the realization of a comprehensive solution to the Middle East problem. As a demonstration of Malaysia’s support to this development my country was represented at the Donor’s Conference to support The Middle East Peace held in Washington and subsequently pledged a modest financial contribution to the Palestinians to assist in their new tasks. My government has also offered the Palestinians technical assistance under the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme.

Malaysia as a matter of general principle is prepared to develop relations with Israel at the appropriate time. In the meantime, we would like to see tangible progress in the implementation of the peace agreement.

The Middle East problem particularly the Palestinian issue has been a cause of instability to the region and I hope the recent agreement between Israel and PLO would contribute to lasting peace to the area.

I look forward to normal relations with Israel.

DR. MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD

I intentionally made bold the last line because, while the rest of the content which, obviously was drafted by someone else, Mahathir wrote that bold part saying he looked forward to normal relations with Israel himself.  Yes, it was handwritten.

In the most recent diplomatic history, Obama wished to have normal relations with Cuba.  Diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba was subsequently restored.  The following year, PKR’s Chua Jui Meng, who was the then-Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry, suggested that Israel could eventually become a destination for Malaysia’s investments (Shanti Nair, Routledge, 1997 p.252).

As a result, in 1999 Israeli exports to Malaysia totalled USD107 million.  In 2000, it was USD732 million, and USD615.5 million the following year.  In 2002, the Israel Ministry of Industry report on trade relations with Indonesia and Malaysia advised Israelis interested in conducting business with Malaysian companies that “there is no opposition to trade and commerce relations as long as a low profile is kept“.

Discretion is essential for these companies, not just in Malaysia but also in Indonesia.  Reputation and financial damage are the risks for companies in these two countries if they are known to be doing trade with Israel.  According to Emanuel Shahaf, the vice chairman of the Israel-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce, “There are two contradictory trends. The pro trend is that Indonesia demands more high-tech things… The negative trend is the political situation is not getting better (when it comes to Israel), in fact it’s getting worse.”

Mahathir’s son Mukhriz, who was the Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry in 2011 confirmed that Malaysia has had bilateral trade relations with Israel since 1996.

Mukhriz tweeted “Upon request from large foreign investors here, in 1996 the Cabinet instructed MITI to approve import from and export to Israel.” The relevation came as a surprise, especially as the trade ties were established during the Mahathir administration.  Mahathir has been a vocal opponent of Israel and continues to project this false stand via his Perdana Leadership Foundation which openly opposes Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.  Najib took over from Abdullah only in 2009.

Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 23.43.02

So, thank you Mahathir for his eagerness to start a diplomatic relationship with Israel in 1993.

Congratulations also to the Opposition states as they received a lot of FDI from Israeli companies.  Don’t forget to thank Mukhriz for that information and confirmation.

Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 23.42.24

Shalom Alekhem!

Saving Sarawak

I see several Sarawak-related pages claiming that no one, including the mainstream media, cares or has given coverage to the flood situation in Sarawak.

Comparing the response both the government and non-governmental organisations gave to the floods on Kelantan and Pahang to the ones now in Sarawak, the Sarawak-related pages say that there is very little that is being done by the Federal Government.

Government Assistance

All Federal Government agencies in Sarawak have been put on flood watch standby as early as December 2017. This includes, but not limited to, the Army 1st Division, the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), and the Fire and Rescue Services Department (FRSD).

The FRSD has been evacuating people from flooded areas, and in one particular instance, evacuated Suriah Bakar, 35, of Kampung Parong, Kota Marudu, who was in labour.

Prime Minister Najib Razak himself is constantly monitoring the flood situation in Sarawak and has promised to ensure that relief reaches all flood victims.

As at noon today (Thursday 8 Feb 2018), only five areas in three divisions in Sarawak have recorded water level above the Alert level. They are in the Miri, Bintulu and Kapit districts.

Only the Bintulu-Belaga road in Bintulu, and Long Jegan and Long Panai in Miri have water levels that are above the Danger level, while Ng Merurung in Kapit and Kuala Binyo in Bintulu have water levels that are above the Alert level.

The areas that are affected by the floods are Samarahan. Sarikei, Sibu, Serian, Bintulu, Mukah and Limbang.

Malaya-Biased Media?

While the Borneo Post has been actively updating the flood situations in Sarawak, Sarawakians complain that the Peninsular-based media, especially the electronic media, have not been giving ample coverage.

This is absolutely not true. Just yesterday I pointed to a Sarawakian friend URLs of mainstream media reports on the flood situations there, including the ones by NST, Berita Harian and Utusan Malaysia.

BERNAMA and RTM have been airing the plight of Sarawak flood victims. Even the station most hated by the Opposition, TV3, has been consistently reporting on the flood situations in Sarawak, covering flood relief centers as well as the latest evacuation operation this morning by the Civil Defence Force (APM) involving a woman in labour at Klinik Entabai, in Julau, Sarikei.

Social Media and Floods Fever

As far as social media is concerned, there is very little that the ordinary Semenanjung folks can do. While we can start collection centers here, sending stuff over there would not be economical at all.

Whilst there have been many flooding in the Peninsular, I made myself available for three – the Johor floods of 2006-2007, the Pahang floods of 2013, and the Kelantan floods of 2014. Those were the flood disasters that Peninsular people got together and helped government agencies to provide assistance to flood victims.

In Johor, I provided assistance between Parit Botak and Rengit. In Pahang, I assisted Her Highness the Tengku Puan Pahang in the Kuantan and Pekan areas. In Kelantan, my former classmates and I brought supplies from Putrajaya to the hospitals in Gua Musang, Kuala Krai and Jeli.

In Johor back in 2006-2007, two waves of floods hit the state. In the first wave, 90,000 people were evacuated. Just when they thought it was safe to return home, a second wave struck and caused 109,831 people to evacuate.

In 2013 Pahang, 40,819 people were evacuated.

In 2014 Kelantan, more than 170,000 had to be evacuated. The scale of destruction that I saw with my own eyes in Gua Musang, Manek Urai and Kuala Krai was just beyond comprehension. Even Kuala Muda in the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami did not look as bad. Yes, I was there too in 2004 with a Malaysia Airlines aircraft captain friend (he now flies for Air Asia).

I took the above photo at Kampung Bukit Tebuk near Chiku while on the way from Kuala Krai to Gua Musang on 31 December 2014 because I saw this man at the Manek Urai relief center queuing for food for his family earlier in the morning. At this point he had walked 14 kilometres to get home.

Pulau Pinang in November 2017 saw 71,294 people evacuated. This was when Lim Guan Eng was seen crying for help…literally.

In comparison, the total number of evacuees in Sarawak as of last night was 4,859 people. It is a number that is still very manageable by the state government and its NGOs.

I have not seen any NGO in Sarawak running a donation campaign to collect cash and kind for flood victims there. If there is such a fund I am sure people in Malaya (a term fondly used by Sarawakians for Peninsular people which isn’t a nice term) would be glad to chip in. After all, I have relatives in Samarahan, Kuching, Miri, and friends working on the Pan Borneo Highway project that are affected by the floods.

Nor do I see throngs of 4X4 vehicles (which happens to be in abundance in Sarawak) carrying relief items to affected areas like it was done in the Peninsular.

How can anyone start anything if the Sarawakians themselves don’t do anything for fellow Sarawakians? I promise not to ask how many Sarawakians actually donated to flood victims and relief missions in Kelantan, Pulau Pinang, Johor and Pahang. To where should we Malayans send our donations to?

So, the feverish pace you saw in the Peninsular was because of the magnitude of the floods and the destruction they caused. The absence of any social media hype by socmed practitioners in Sarawak on the flood situation says all that.

I am not saying that the flood situation in Sarawak is not bad. Any flood is bad. But it doesn’t do justice when people sit and complain about it on social media expecting to be spoon fed. Just start something instead of whining. There are many here on this side of the South China Sea who would want to help.

Pakatan Hampas

Kerajaan Persekutuan berhasrat untuk membina sejuta rumah mampu milik di semua negeri di Malaysia, termasuk di negeri-negeri yang ditadbir oleh Pakatan Harapan.  Namun, nilai hartanah yang tinggi, terutamanya di negeri-negeri di bawah pentadbiran Pakatan Harapan, menjadi batu penghalang hasrat tersebut.

Masalah Di Selangor

Semasa di bawah pentadbiran Barisan Nasional, rumah mampu milik merupakan tanggungjawab badan-badan kerajaan negeri seperti Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Selangor (PKNS).  Namun, sejak pentadbiran diambil alih oleh Pakatan Rakyat pada tahun 2008, PKNS bertukar menjadi sebuah agensi yang mengejar keuntungan.

Pebangunan hartanah merupakan sumber hasil bagi kerajaan negeri dan pihak berkuasa tempatan melalui yuran tukar penggunaan tanah, pembahagian-pembahagian kecil dan lain-lain hal berkenaan dengan tanah.  Kesemua kos-kos ini telah meningkat sejak pengambil alihan pentadbiran oleh Pakatan.

2d7f4cc5-07fa-4819-9022-91f68461288b
Kenaikan bayaran premium tanah di Selangor sahaja adalah sebanyak 299 peratus sejak 2008

Penjualan tanah di bawah harga pasaran adalah salah satu cara untuk mengadakan rumah kos murah.  Namun, kebiasaan tersebut telah dihapuskan.  Malah, PKNS sendiri kini terpaksa membida untuk tanah pada harga pasaran?

Kita perlu meneliti prosedur-prosedur yang dikenakan terhadap para pemaju oleh pelbagai jabatan kerajaan negeri dan pihak-pihak berkuasa tempatan.

Birokrasi dan sikap berdolak-dalik merupakan sebab-sebab lazim yang melambatkan proses dan ini menambahkan lagi kos.  Perbelanjaan dan faedah pinjaman bank perlu dibayar walaupun projek belum dapat dimulakan.  Kita belum lagi berbincang mengenai  rasuah dan ini boleh memberi kesan besar terhadap kos kerana kadar yang diminta oleh ‘orang-orang tengah’ untuk ‘melicinkan proses’ boleh menjadi besar dan untuk setiap tandatangan yang diperlukan.

Tidak meghairankanlah jika sebahagian besar pemaju berpendapat bahawa pihak kerajaan negeri dan pihak berkuasa tempatan merupakan batu halangan terhadap rumah mampu milik kerana tanah merupakan hak dan kuasa kerajaan negeri dan bukan kerajaan persekutuan.  Maka, kerajaan persekutuan tiada hak untuk memperbetulkan keadaan ini.

Masalah di Pulau Pinang

Kalau gambarajah di atas menunjukkan bayaran premium tanah yang meningkat di Selangor, kita lihat gambarajah seterusnya yang menunjukkan lonjakan caj cukai hartanah di Selangor dan Pulau Pinang sejak 2008:

03a7f838-0a50-4723-8078-47328d86f2c2
Lonjakan caj cukai hartanah kepada penduduk tempatan sejak Pakatan mentadbir Selangor dan Pulau Pinang

Kerajaan negeri dan pihak berkuasa tempatan perlu serius dalam mengotakan janji mereka untuk mengadakan rumah-rumah kos rendah dan rumah mampu milik.  Di penghujung penggal kedua berkuasa di Pulau Pinang, DAP masih belum menyerahkan rumah mampu miliknya yang pertama, malah menyalahkan kerajaan persekutuan di atas kegagalannya sendiri.

Kampung-kampung tradisi, terutamanya penempatan tradisi orang-orang Melayu, dirobohkan untuk memberi laluan kepada para pemaju membangunkan kondominium mampu tengok dan lain-lain pembangunan komersil.  Kerajaan negeri Pulau Pinang juga bersikap tidak bertanggung jawab menjual tanah-tanah milik kerajaan negeri kepada para pemaju hinggakan hanya tinggal baki tujuh peratus sahaja tanah kerajaan negeri di Pulau Pinang.  Ini bermakna peuang untuk mendirikan rumah-rumah mampu milik di Pulau Pinang semakin halus.

Para pemaju kecil juga tidak berpeluang untuk mengambil bahagian dalam pembangunan di Pulau Pinang akibat caj-caj yang dikenakan terhadap para pemaju begitu tinggi.  Kita lihat gambarajah seterusnya:

69d859e3-71eb-4371-8052-c3049c2fc1cb
Kenapa kerajaan negeri Pulau Pinang begitu galak menaikkan kadar caj-caj? Siapa yang membuat untung sedangkan rakyat tidak lagi mampu memiliki sebarang hartanah di dalam negeri tersebut?

Dari gambarajah di atas kita dapat lihat kerakusan kerajaan negeri Pulau Pinang di bawah pentadbiran DAP hanya mementingkan keuntungan dan membelakangkan keperluan rakyat.

Di bawah kerajaan DAP, sumbangan perumahan kos rendah dikenakan sebanyak RM150,000 bagi setiap unit.  Di bawah BN tiada caj dikenakan.  Setiap gerai penjaja dikenakan RM58,000 – kenaikan sebanyak RM55,000 berbanding dengan semasa di bawah pentadbiran BN.  Untuk penyediaan kemudahan komuniti seperti padang, dewan serbaguna, masjid dan surau dan sebagainya, kerajaan DAP mengenakan caj sebanyak RM500 sekaki persegi berbanding RM25 sekaki persegi di bawah BN.  Untuk infrastruktur seperti jalan dan saliran, kerajaan DAP mengenakan RM15 sekaki persegi berbanding tiada caj di bawah BN untuk jalan, dan RM50,000 seekar untuk saliran berbanding RM10,000 di bawah BN.

Satu lagi bukti kerajaan DAP tidak menghiraukan keperluan rakyat ialah mengenakan caj sebanyak RM500 sekaki persegi untuk setiap tadika yang disediakan.  Tiada caj dikenakan oleh pentadbiran BN Pulau Pinang sebelum ini.

Berapa pula premium tanah yang dikenakan oleh kerajaan DAP Pulau Pinang?  Kita telah melihat lonjakan dahsyat di negeri Selangor sejak 2008, kita lihat pula keadaannya di Pulau Pinang:

b391f7f7-5a7d-470a-b9d1-ec8da7aa38aa
1,671 peratus kenaikan sejak 2008. Beginilah rakusnya DAP apabila berkuasa

Nampak gayanya premium tanah yang dikenakan oleh kerajaan DAP Pulau Pinang melonjak dengan begitu banyak sekali berbanding semasa di bawah pentadbiran BN pada tahun 2007.  Pengurangan hanya berlaku dua kali iaitu pada tahun 2008 semasa mula-mula memegang pentadbiran negeri.  Mungkin ketika ini mereka hendakkan maklumbalas positif mengenai cara DAP mentadbir negeri.  Kemudian kenaikan dikenakan sedikit demi sedikit dan melonjak besar selepas memegang tampuk pentadbiran kerajaan negeri selepas 2013, kemudian turun sedikit pada tahun 2016 selepas Lim Guan Eng dihadapkan ke mahkamah di atas satu perbuatan rasuah – salahguna kuasa dan jawatan untuk kepentingan dirinya.

Ringkasannya

Caj-caj dan bayaran premium yang dikenakan terhadap para pemaju di Pulau Pinang menyebabkan rumah mampu milik di Pulau Pinang yang berkeluasan 1,000 kaki persegi menjadi RM120,000 seunit berbanding RM42,000 seunit semasa di bawah pentadbiran BN.  Apabila dikenakan kadar faedah sebanyak 5 peratus setahun untuk tempoh pinjaman 30 tahun, bayaran faedah akan menjadi RM116,569.73 atau RM671.03 setiap bulan.  Kos keseluruhan akan menjadi RM236,569.73 setiap unit.  Adakah kadar bulanan ini mampu dibayar oleh mereka yang dari golongan berpendapatan rendah?

Keengganan kerajaan negeri Selangor di bawah PKR memberi kerjasama dengan agensi perumahan kerajaan pusat seperti PR1MA dan PPR mendatangkan masalah untuk kerajaan pusat membantu kerajaan negeri membina rumah-rumah kos rendah dan mampu milik.  Setakat ini hanya 11,000 unit rumah sahaja yang daat didirikan berbanding sasaran 70,000.

Ini berbeza sekali dengan kerajaan negeri Kelantan di bawah PAS yang menerima bantuan kerajaan pusat dengan tangan terbuka.  Setakat Ogos 2017, 418 unit PPR telah dibina di Machang manakala 1,000 unit telah dibina di Kota Bharu.  Ini menunjukkan walaupun berlainan fahaman politik, kerajaan PAS sanggup mengenepikan perjuangan demi kesejahteraan rakyat, tidak seperti Pakatan Harapan yang tidak langsung memberi harapan kepada para pengundi.

Pandai-pandailah anda menilaikan sendiri siapa yang mendahulukan kepentingan rakyat dan siapa yang mendahulukan kepentingan keuntungan.

A Flood Of Incompetence

I am surprised that a former Brigadier General doesn’t know that you cannot simply deploy the military without explicit instructions

Former army Brigadier turned politician, Arshad Raji, seems to like the attention the electronic media has been according him lately, and he speaks about a wide spectrum of issues – from falling for Mahathir’s fake news of the so-called withdrawal of his close police protection, to the management of the floods in Pulau Pinang.

In the latter issue it was as if he was trying to downplay the Deputy Prime Minister and the BN-led Federal Government’s involvement in the management of the floods.  He was right about some of it, though.  Under the National Security Council Directive No.20, when a state emergency is declared following a disaster affecting two districts or more, the State Disaster Management Committee can call for assistance in the form of assets, finance, and other resources on the state level, and limited form of assistance from federal agencies within the state – the police, armed forces, civil defence etc.  This does not require a call to the Deputy Prime Minister at all.

Look at Level II Disaster Management by the State

The State Disaster Management Committee is chaired by the Chief Minister or Menteri Besar while the Chief Executive is the State Secretary.  But what Arshad Raji did not know, or chose to not reveal during his “press conference” was the fact that until now Lim Guan Eng has not declared a state of emergency in Pulau Pinang despite floods inundating four out of five districts in Pulau Pinang namely Seberang Prai Utara, Seberang Prai Selatan, Barat Daya and Timur Laut.

Don’t blame the Federal Government. Tokong himself did not declare a state of emergency

I lived in Pulau Pinang, on the pulau itself for three years and four months in the late 1980s and never once saw floods affecting the state on this level.  The most I would see is pockets of areas in Datuk Keramat and the Green Lane (Jalan Masjid Negeri) – Jalan Air Itam junction near the State Mosque.  Even then you could still pass the areas on your motorcycle.  Having eight deaths because of floods in a year was unheard of (one died earlier in September while seven this time around).

No rain, no floods” seems to be the best of Lim Guan Eng’s quotes pertaining to floods in Pulau Pinang.  This time, the deluge is blamed on a tyhoon that is battering Vietnam, and rightfully so.  Every time a typhoon hits Vietnam, the northern Peninsular states would receive an extra amount of rainfall.  And since 1881, Vietnam has been battered by 68 typhoons excluding the one that has just hit them.  However, the shocking bit is where 119 flash floods have hit Pulau Pinang since 2013!  That is 2.5 flash floods per month for the last four years!

I wonder why this is the case of late?

It does not take an engineer to tell you that when you do excessive hillside developments, the soil cannot absorb the rainwater as the oxidised topsoil would be transformed into a clay-like material.  The run-offs would be washed into monsoon drains, clogging up the roadside gutters and making the storm sewers shallower as silt accumulates at the bottom.  These drains flow out to sea along natural coastlines, which is why monsoon drains act as gravity sewers.  In Pulau Pinang, you can hardly find a natural coastline as most beaches with gradient have been reclaimed, and the gradient tapers off, diminishing the gravity effect.  Storm water therefore does not flow into the sea but accumulates and saturates the flatter grounds causing floods.

But who cares about eight deaths this year due to floods and one last year when you can make money selling condominium units to the rich?  But it is this excessive development by the state government that was voted in by the Pulau Pinang people that is now killing the Pulau Pinang people and have caused untold miseries.

Everyone also knows that when it is the new moon or full moon, tides will be higher than usual, and that makes it harder for storm drains and rivers to flow water out to sea, what more when there is excessive water caused by the backlash of a typhoon.

Phases of the moon for November 2017

You can see that from 1 November 2017 the moon was in an advanced waxing gibbous phase and full moon over Georgetown, Pulau Pinang occured at 12.40am on Saturday, 4 November 2017.  The Malaysian Meteorological Department had issued a series of bad weather warnings for the northern Peninsular states from 31 October 2017, and every day from then on.

Met Department warning for the northern states on 31 October 2017
Met department warning the northern states that the bad weather was going to last at least four days from 1 November 2017
Another Met department warning on 2 November 2017 reminding the northern states that the bad weather was going to last at least four days until 4 November 2017
Another Met department warning issued on 3 November 2017 for the northern states that the bad weather was going to last at least until 4 November 2017

You can see that there was ample warning by the Malaysian Meteorological Department that the weather was going to be bad for four days.  What did Lim Guan Eng or his State Disaster Management Committee do?  Nothing, until it got really bad.  And at 3.00am, Lim Guan Eng became a cry baby and called the Deputy Prime Minister for help, without even declaring a state emergency.

Lim Guan Eng called the DPM for help at 3am on 5 November 2017, five days after the initial warning was issued by the Malaysian Meteorological Department

Where was his State Disaster Management Committee?  Why had they not sat down to make preparations to mitigate the situation?

Lim Guan Eng was quick to point fingers at Kelantan in the aftermath of the disastrous floods at the end of 2014.  He pointing out that corruption and the incompetency of the Kelantan state government, as well as the rampant hillside clearing as the causes of the floods.

Well, we know that there is rampant hillside clearing in Pulau Pinang.  We also know that the Chief Minister was charged on two accounts of corruption, and we also know now that it was the incompetency of the Pulau Pinang State Disaster Management Committee led by Lim Guan Eng himself as the Chairman that had caused the situation to be worse than it should be.

Lim Guan Eng’s government’s incompetence has killed one person in floods last year, 21 people in a landslide this year, and eight people in the recent floods.  This is the government that the Pulau Pinang people have voted in, and the Chief Minister chosen by them.

Pakatan’s promise
Pakatan’s promise
Pakatan’s promise

119 flash floods have occured since the promises above was made.  And Lim Guan Eng’s government is not worried.  Going by the rate the floods are killing people, there won’t be that many people left to complain about the floods – problem solved.

No Harapan

Last night, BigDog revealed that Mukhriz Mahathir did not receive a single nomination for any of ANSARA posts. This is a drastic change when he used to be the leading figurehead of ANSARA.

Compared to MCOBA, ANSARA is not politically-inclined at all save for some chapters. But even those Pakatan-leaning chapters did not nominate Mukhriz for any position.

When I advised the committee members of an Air Force veterans association to seek help from Mukhriz the Menteri Besar over an issue they were facing in Kedah, they shook their head saying they would rather seek help from the EXCOs or individual ADUNs as Mukhriz was not a performer.

Of course, Mukhriz has been making his rounds in his parliamentary constituency but even people there tell me that he hardly visited them when he was the MB. They dismissed it as a superficial attempt to show that he is still relevant.

He even visited Langkawi, where his own father is the self-appointed Ketua Pribumi, to tell people of his vision to develop Langkawi even further, including turning the padi patch behind the Ayer Hangat Cultural Village into a commercial area.

The problem is, the islanders are aware that for 22 years, Mukhriz’s father only brought development to the southern part of the island, enriching cronies and outsiders, giving them land, leaving people in the northern half to fend for themselves.

Just like Pulau Pinang, there is hardly a beach that locals could go to to enjoy.

Other than bitching about what BN does, they are also good at doing bad things like creating fear among the kampung folks by dishing out lies.

An example is the putting up of a land office map of several kampungs in Seri Medan with a crudely-drawn rectangle showing “the new alignment of the High Speed Rail” that will affect the respective kampungs. Not even people in the Johor Land and Housing committee have heard of such re-alignment of the HSR.

The District Land Office plan with a crudely-drawn rectangle to show realignment of the HSR being put up at a Chinese shop in Kampung Parit Warijo Lintang in Seri Medan

Although Pribumi has a foot in Kampung Parit Seri Menanti where a former UMNO man angered by not being given contracts had set up a Pribumi branch, the party has made a base out of Kampung Sri Bengkal’s favourite Soto Kambing joint in nearby Parit Yob which is operated by a housewife and her amputee husband.


But seeing the number of likes and comments on the Instagram page belonging to a high-ranking Pribumi official shows that the 1.5 million signatures of a petition presented by Pribumi AMANDA’s Syed Sajat is nothing but a fabrication.


Of late,  even Pakatan-organised talks cannot muster the same crowds as they used to. A sign that people are weary of the amount of bitching the Pakatan has been doing instead of spending time and taxpayers’ money in the form of their allowances to do good for the rakyat.

There may have been some crowd when Mahathir was in Kuching recently but you can hardly take that as a show for support. Even my BN-supporting relatives were there “to see what the fuss is all about” and to see what stallowners have to offer.

See how the latest Pakatan talk fared.

Even the President of Pribumi who claimed he was expelled from UMNO for fighting against the alleged excessiveness of Najib Razak, could muster a handful at his talks.


This is the sorry state of support that the Pakatan could muster. It tells a lot. Maybe they should save the trouble first before saving Malaysia.

The Fall of the Straits Settlements?

Last night, I wrote a bit about how Georgetown may lose its UNESCO Heritage Site status. Tonight, I shall write a bit more and tell you what impact should such event take place.

If you can recall I wrote that Georgetown in Pulau Pinang, and the City of Melaka in Melaka, were bestowed UNESCO Heritage Site status on 7 July 2008.

Unlike Pulau Pinang, Melaka is certainly proud of its UNESCO Heritage Site status

The application for the status was first made sometime in 1998 but failed to achieve the status as the documentation was not proper.

If I recall correctly, the Federal government had to step in through its Jabatan Warisan Negara (National Heritage Department) to properly structure the application to UNESCO.

In January 2007 the Nomination Dossier was submitted. In July, the official acknowledgment from UNESCO was received.

This followed a visit by officials from the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) to Georgetown and Melaka between 24 to 31 August 2007. They include Professor Yukio Nishimura who is from the Department of Urban Engineering, University of Tokyo.

The Baba Nyonya and Portuguese heritages as well as their society is preserved by the Melaka government

Since being bestowed the status, Melaka took the necessary steps to ensure that the descendants of the historical Melaka people, its customs and sites remain preserved with very little restoration modifications done.

One can almost imagine Portuguese and Dutch soldiers walk upon the grounds of this church on St John’s Hill, Melaka

Both Melaka and Georgetown are similar in many ways. Some parts of both cities are time capsules of eras that have passed, eras that played a huge role in shaping the two cities. But that is where the similarities end.

In Georgetown you can hardly find the original people. Although the clans still have their presence there, only the richer ones remain on the island while poorer ones have moved to the mainland.

Gone are the sundry shops, the second-hand bookstores I used to frequent along Armenian Street, the old Chinese man weaving rattan baskets and the Malabari newsagents.

While the facade of their shops remain, inside are rows upon rows of boutique hotels and hipster cafes that are owned by foreigners and by that I mean non-citizens.

Pulau Pinang’s adamant stand to fulfill its Transportation Master Plan as wel as the selling of heritage buildings to foreigners also contribute to Georgetown losing its heritage status. Changing the landscape by the reclamation works to build three man-made islands would also destroy Pulau Pinang’s heritage.

Other than having to maintain and preserve historical buildings and sites, multi-cultural tangible and intangible heritage expressed in the great variety of religious buildings of different faiths, ethnic quarters, the many languages, worship and religious festivals, dances, costumes, art and music, food, and daily life must also continue to be preserved.

Under the guise of development the DAP-led state government of Pulau Pinang is only interested in making as much money as it possibly could.  After all, land is money? Why worry about 40 buildings that nobody could live in when you have preserved five?

But what I am about to tell you will make many become apoplectic with rage – if Georgetown loses its UNESCO Heritage Site status, SO WILL MELAKA.

Yes, the UNESCO Heritage Site status was jointly awarded to both Georgetown and Melaka on 7 July 2008, and the Jabatan Warisan Negara is the body to preserve the sites as per the status. There was one joint-application to UNESCO for both cities.

But with land being a state prerogative, what chances does the department or all Pulau Pinang’s heritage NGOs have? The innocent victim here would be the people of Melaka. If robbed of its status because of the callous behaviour of the Pulau Pinang state government, the romance of showcasing historical sites to tourists in Melaka would be forever gone. So would be the businesses, the trishaw riders, and possibly some of the archaeological excavation sites.

Yes, Tokong’s greed and selfishness will not only destroy Pulau Pinang, they will destroy Melaka too. Does he care? I doubt. The people of Melaka are not going to vote for him next year.

The sun will soon set on Melaka’s UNESCO Heritage Site status because of the Tokong

Making Money While They Still Can

The blood, sweat and tears shed to get the UNESCO Heritage Site status for Pulau Pinang will soon go to waste
On 7 July 2008, four months after DAP’s coming into power in Pulau Pinang, the old part of its capital Georgetown was declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site.

Georgetown, alongside Melaka, were chosen on that day because both demonstrate a succession of historical and cultural influences arising from their former function as trading ports linking East and West.

These are the most complete surviving historic city centres on the Straits of Malacca with a multi-cultural living heritage originating from the trade routes from Great Britain and Europe through the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and the Malay Archipelago to China.

Both are living testimony to the multi-cultural heritage and tradition of Asia, and European colonial influences. This multi-cultural tangible and intangible heritage is expressed in the great variety of religious buildings of different faiths, ethnic quarters, the many languages, worship and religious festivals, dances, costumes, art and music, food, and daily life.

But after nine years, Georgetown will soon lose it all. In 1966 the Alliance government of Pulau Pinang introduced the Control of Rent Act (CRA) to help original tenants in the inner-city area have the rights to enjoy low rental rates for housing, allowing them to continuously reside and practice their trades in the area. The Act was repealed and this led to a drastic increase in rent.

This has led to the gentrification of not only Georgetown, but also the rest of the island side of Pulau Pinang that have chased away those who can no longer afford to live on the island – the poorer Chinese, the Malays and also the Indians, who were the real reason UNESCO granted the status upon Georgetown.

The gentrification of Pulau Pinang has led to the poorer people to move out and settle elsewhere. Those who cannot afford to move out continue to live in Georgetown on God’s good humour

Without the RCA, Tokong’s DAP government is no longer restricted to raise the market price of land within the heritage site and this has led to the redevelopment of areas within the site and selling them to foreigners.

The Tokong does not care for Georgetown’s heritage sites, and this is evident in his attitude towards the preservation of the Sia Boey. The sooner he could sell that piece of land off, the more money is made.

This “don’t-care” attitude of Tokong’s is just like his Underwater Tunnel Project. The reclamation works for the project has gone full swing, yet the feasibility study for it has yet to be submitted.

How is it possible that works can start before a feasibility study is submitted?

The RM305 million study, which Pulau Pinang taxpayers paid for some time back, is still not completed. It was back in March this year that the Tokong said it was 87 percent complete.

It has been six months since the study’s completion was at 87 percent

Today, more than six months later, Tokong still has not submitted the feasibility study to the Ministry of Works.

18 months to do a report? Another six months and I could have completed a Masters in something

Tokong will continue to give all sorts of stupid excuses for not being able to submit the report and stretch this until after the next general election if at all possible.

All we know is that while he is busy giving excuses, there would be more land within the heritage site that would be sold.

The clock is ticking, however Tokong knows how to buy more time to be able to make more money by getting rid of the UNESCO World Heritage Site status.