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Monday, July 26, 2010

FDI Plunge: It's a conspiracy!

Just as we were jumping in unison, de-corking our halal champagne while wearing our national football team jersey - as opposed to a Manchester United jersey - to celebrate a visit by Robert De Niro to our Wonderland, someone decided to spoil the party.

Before going into that, I would like to ask the guy who said that Manchester United jersey should not be worn because it's crest depicts the devil. My question is this. When have you seen the devil to know that the depiction on Man U jersey is that of the devil himself (for that matter, is the devil a "he"?).

For all we know, the rooster on Tottenham Hotspur's jersey is the real devil! That explains why Spur's fans still support the club. LOL!!

Anyway, I digress.

Oh, by the way, Robert De Niro was in town. Of course, for the BC generation like me - BC for "before computer" if you hadn't known - De Niro is da man. The Google generation however would very much prefer Robert Downey Jr.

Who else could have done that "you talkin' to me" stuff other than De Niro. Remember guys?

"You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin' to? You talkin' to me? Well I'm the only one here. Who the fuck do you think you're talking to?"

I digress again.

Anyway, here goes with the real story. Malaysians who follow the economic progress of this country were jolted with the published numbers relating to our foreign direct investments last week.

According to the World Investment Report 2010 unveiled on 23rd July, our  FDI plunged 81 percent from US$7.32 billion (RM23.47 billion*) in 2008 to just US$1.38 billion (RM4.43 billion) last year. (*Calculated based on exchange rate of US$1 = RM3.20650). (as reported by MalaysiaKini).

And to add salt to the already gaping wound, our capital outflow for the same period was RM25.77 billion! That means we have a negative capital flow.

As comparison, in 2008, we had RM23.47 billion inflow compared to RM48.06 billion outflow.

What is happening?

There are two aspects to this report. Firstly, foreign investors seem to shun Malaysia. There is something with this country which they do not like. Or which is making them decide NOT to invest here. Don't ask me what. I do not know.

Hmmm...wait. May be they don't like our system. May be we are too corrupt. But the again, they are investing in Indonesia. Even the Philippines drew more FDI than us. Surely these two countries are more corrupt than our country. So, corruption is not it then.

So what is it? How about policies? Or transparency? Or diversification of our economy and economic activities? Or shall we be a little bit nicer to them, no? And less Keris waving in public too, no? 

Well, it is for the Government to find out and for me to know. And they had better do it quickly.

The second aspect to the report is that Malaysians do not seem to want to invest in Malaysia either! Ouch!

I am sure from the 23 billion odd outflow, Petronas, Sime Darby and probably even Khazanah are among the major contributors. I could understand why Petronas has to dump money abroad. That is because there is no more oil wells in Malaysia, I suppose.

Felda apparently has invested quite a hefty sum in the US of A. Sime Darby also has sizeable investments abroad.

Perhaps these national companies should now reconsider their business strategy, no?

But hold on.

In a report by the Star on December 19, 2009, Deputy Minister Mukhriz was reported as saying "that the country is on course to hit the RM20bil target in foreign direct investments (FDI) this year".

The report further said:

"Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir said the national economic climate was positive as a total of RM12.6bil in FDI had been received between January and September.

“The FDI figure is encouraging as we must take into consideration that Malaysia is no longer the main country for foreign investors, given new competitors nearby like Vietnam.

“We are confident of reaching our FDI target for this year,” he said, adding that the ministry was awaiting the fourth quarter report.

Speaking to pressmen after launching a forum with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia students here Saturday, Mukhriz said the country was still an attractive destination for foreign investments especially in the electrical and electronic as well as chemical industries.

“The Government is focusing on attracting FDI from industries that are capital intensive and high in technology."

On 14th January 2010, the NST reported as follows:

"On 2009's FDI performance Mukhriz said the number was well over that of the RM20 billion official target set under the Third Industrial Masterplan but way below the RM62 8 billion achieved in 2008.

FDIs from January to October 2009 stood at RM13 9 billion Mukhriz expects 2010 to be better in terms of FDIs.

" I am optimistic and have a good feeling about this year. We'll see some improvements barring any events (epidemic, crisis or war.)"

So it appears that as far as the Government was concerned (as at January this year at least), Malaysia's FDI was "well over RM20 billion." How come the World Investment Report 2010 says our FDI was only 4.43 billion?

I tell you what.

The United Nations' World Investment Report 2010 is just another conspiracy to put Malaysia in a bad light! It must be all the Jews in the United Nations.

Hmm.....wait. We also have a Jewish spy among us.

Yes. Anwar Ibrahim seems to have been at it, yet again.

Malaysians, please unite against this travesty of misinformation. Don't trust them foreigners. They are evil. They are just...just like the devil.

Avoid them like you do a Manchester United jersey.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Scholarships - Perkasa's demand is unconstitutional

On 12th July 2010, the Malaysian Insider quoted MPM committee member Professor Datuk Dr Kamarudin Kachar as saying that federal scholarships should be allocated in accordance with the country's racial ratio.

As we all know, MPM stands for Majlis Perundingan Melayu or the Malay Consultative Council. It is driven by the ultra-Malay group, Perkasa, led by Ibrahim Ali and finds support by luminaries such as Dr Mahathir.

While Minister Nazri has today insisted that we all should get rid of Perkasa - "because Perkasa is not in line with Datuk Seri Najib (Razak’s) 1 Malaysia concept,” and “we (are) against any form of racism and Perkasa certainly doesn’t belong or [is] supported by Umno,” - the Deputy Prime Minister and some other Ministers have often said that Perkasa is entitled to voice its opinion on matters affecting Malay rights.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib has refused to be associated with Perkasa by refusing to attend its gathering  at the PWTC some months ago. However, his tacit approval of Perkasa and what it stands for is well perceived upon his refusal to openly state that Perkasa runs counter to his 1 Malaysia concept.

In fact, the Prime Minister's posturing on his New Economic Model, which saw him broach the subject of transparency and meritocracy in the awards of government contracts only to later announce that he would not betray the interests of the Malays after Perkasa had raised its usual Malay rights rants a couple of decibels upwards, lends credence to the perception that he, at the very least, is conscious of Perkasa's influence among the conservative Malays if not wholly in agreement with it.

In the UMNO Youth Chief, YB Khairy Jamaluddin, Minister Nazri finds an unlikely ally. Khairy has openly criticised Perkasa and its chief,  Ibrahim Ali, whom he (Khairy) described as a "jaguh kampung" (village champion).

Ibrahim responded by asking Khairy to resign from his post as the UMNO Youth Chief.

The fact that Minister Nazri has said that Perkasa should be gotten rid of came as no surprise as the latter's connection with Dr Mahathir is not very well hidden. And Minister Nazri's disdain with anything Mahathir is also quite obvious. In addition, Khairy Jamaluddin is also not exactly in love with Dr Mahathir. The feeling is mutual, I must hasten to add.

As I am writing this article, Ibrahim Ali has responded the Minister Nazri's call by saying that Minister Nazri should instead be gotten rid of.

Elsewhere, the Deputy Prime Minister, had ventured into a really murky territory by saying that all can form their own Perkasa. 

Since the inception of Perkasa and the rise of Ibrahim Ali as the leader of this self-styled Malay pressure group, I have found Perkasa - and it's various offshoots, such as Gertak, Pekida, Pewaris and MPM - to be nothing but a political gimmickry entirely lacking in any form of substantive intellect.

And to think that there is someone in MCA who had suggested that the Chinese should have its own Perkasa is nothing short of comedic. What will the Chinese version of Perkasa be named? PerkaChua?

That Perkasa lacks intellectual credibility is obvious from Ibrahim Ali's call for Khairy Jamaluddin to resign and for Minister Nazri to be gotten rid of. Why must KJ resign or Minister Nazri be sacked?  Just because they disagree with Ibrahim Ali?

This is endemic among Malaysians who are quite obviously less endowed in the cranium,  I must say. When one could not rebut what one's opponent is saying, one attacks the opponent. If no credible attack could be mounted, one calls for his or her resignation. Whatever for? Would the opponent resign just because of that call?

Personally, I do not for a moment believe that the government in general, and UMNO in particular, to be in such a chaotic state over Perkasa. I really do  not believe that the various personalities in UMNO are at odd over Perkasa.

To me, it is a balancing act. Someone has to pacify the non Malays and someone else within the same organisation has to pacify the conservative Malay. Hence the seeming inconsistent stands on Perkasa from different personalities within UMNO.

Whatever it is, Perkasa has been allowed to raise a number of issues by the government. It has, for example,  raised issues about the meritocracy plan under the New Economic Model. It has even managed to  scream over the Bank Negara's refusal to disallow Affin Bank to make an offer to take over EON Bank.

And yesterday, through MPM, it demanded that federal scholarship should be distributed in accordance with the racial ratio. The rationale for that is explained as follows:

“The Malay population of this country is 67 per cent. That means 67 per cent of scholarships should be set aside for deserving Malays and Bumiputeras,” says MPM committee member Professor Datuk Dr Kamarudin Kachar (as quoted by the Malaysian Insisder).

I do not know whether the Malay population in Malaysia consists of 67% of the whole population of Malaysia. That apart, the simplistic approach taken by the good Professor is alarming, to say the least.

What if, out of the 67%, the family of 25% of the Malays could more than afford to send their children to any university thereby negating any necessity for scholarship?

What if the government decides to impose taxes based on the racial ratio, arguing that since  the Malays form 67% of Malaysia' total population, the Malays should pay more taxes as all public utilities ad amenities are obviously used more by the Malays than other races?

The eradication of poverty, emancipation and empowerment of the people of this country, intellectually and politically, is a must, if we are serious in achieving the goal of being a developed nation by 2020 or at all.

I, for one, am not going to deny the necessity for affirmative action, if that is what it takes to raise the economic status of a certain section of our society, be it the Malays or any other race.

The fact that there are special positions enjoyed by the Malays and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak is also undeniable and unquestionable. And I am not questioning them.

But what are those special positions? How are they "protected"? Is the mechanism for this so called "protection" left at our whims and fancies?

Article 153 of the Federal Constitution lays out the answer. But we do  not seem to want to analyse it, let alone understand and implement it whole heartedly.

Quite to the contrary, we seem to be hell-bent on twisting its purview and purports, taking away the spirit of the provision from its implementation, thereby making a mockery of  all the good intentions of our forefathers, who fought for independence and negotiated the inclusion of the provisions into our supreme law, the Federal Constitution.

This is what it says:

"Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, but subject to the provisions of Article 40 and of this Article, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall exercise his functions under this Constitution and federal law in such manner as may be necessary to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak and to ensure the reservation for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak of such proportion as he may deem reasonable of positions in the public service (other than the public service of a State) and of scholarships, exhibitions and other similar educational or training privileges or special facilities given or accorded by the Federal Government and, when any permit or licence for the operation of any trade or business is required by federal law, then, subject to the provisions of that law and this Article, of such permits and licences."

Allow me to break the provision up for better clarity. Broken to its core, article 153 provides as follows:

a) the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall exercise his functions under this Constitution and federal law in such manner as may be necessary to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak;

b) his Royal Highness shall ensure the reservation for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak of such proportion as he may deem reasonable of the followings:

- positions in the public service;

- scholarships, exhibitions and other similar educational or training privileges or special facilities given or accorded by the Federal Government;

- any permit or licence for the operation of any trade or business as required by federal law.

The crux of article 153 is not the racial ratio. It is "reasonableness".

The question is therefore not one of numerical superiority. Nor is it racial superiority. Or even "ketuanan".

Article 153 posits the existence of an executive responsibility. That responsibility is to ensure that the provision is implemented as reasonableness demands. It is therefore a highly visionary provision.

I say "visionary" because we cannot discount a time in the future where "reasonableness" dictates that no reservation of the various matters spelt out above should be made for the Malays and/or the natives of Sabah and/or Sarawak.

If we could not discount that possibility, than we would have failed miserably as a nation. To think that the Malays and natives of Sabah and/or Sarawak would need various positions to be reserved for them for eternity, out of social or political necessity, is an admission on our part that we would never be able to alleviate poverty and social as well as  economics imbalance  among the Malays and the natives forever and ever.

In that instant, are we, as a people and as a nation, not ashamed of ourselves?

The correct question to be asked, in respect of the distribution of the federal scholarship, is then not a numerical one. It is this.

How many  federal scholarships (scholarships given by states government do not come within the purview of article 153) should be reserved for the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak as would be reasonable?

Surely, the concept of reasonableness would entail a careful and deep analysis of needs and necessity of the Malays and natives for such scholarship as compared to the other races. Surely, it would entail a careful study of the academic achievements of the Malays and natives as compared to the other races. Surely it would entail a certain set of guidelines and criterions for selection of qualified students.

I may be wrong on the above. But what I am dead sure about is this.

I am sure that Article 153 does not provide as follows:

"All federal  scholarships, positions  in civil service, business licenses and permits shall be reserved, firstly, for  the Malays, secondly for  the natives of Sabah and Sarawak and the remaining, if any, for the other races."

I am also sure that article 153 does not posit the distribution of federal scholarships in accordance with numerical superiority.

Perkasa's demand, through MPM, for the federal scholarships to be distributed in accordance with racial make up of our country is not only incongruous with the concept of 1 Malaysia, but is also repugnant against the Federal Constitution, both in its letters and spirit.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Rage Against the Juice...and some other nonsense

They conspire to do everything and anything. Everything which is bad almost inevitably involves their conspiracy. Brazil's and Argentina's defeats at the World Cup are also because of them. (England's defeat is not due to them though. The English players are just too damn lame!).

(Digression. Football joke of the day. David Blaine is gutted. His record for doing absolutely feck all in a box for 42 days has been shattered by Wayne Rooney. LOL!!!)

They rule the world. They are bad.

And of course in certain countries, ours included,  they are also the perennial punching bags for people hoping to score some political brownie points.

Who are they?

They are the Juice.

juice

Notice the similarity with this?

perkasa demo

It appears to be universal, this totally inexplicable urge to entertain. Our little neighbour down South, is not to be left out when it comes to this kind of thing. IN response to my satire, "Kami tak kow tow, kau tau?", a person, professing to be a Singaporean, posted this comment:

"1. 20% of crime rate down...
2. 2 submarines...
This doesn't prove anything about malaysia malay kow-towing to anyone...
ON the other hand, We singaporeans do not need % and figures to tell us that our crime rate has gone down...because all along we are given a good ranking due to our utterly low crime rate internationally.
2 submarines doesnt mean can win us...It doesnt threaten us a single bit, please...
and we do not even have cases of stolen aircraft engine parts besides your country...
So it just proves that w/o having to kow-tow to anyone, u people are already losing national assets like losing money in gamling at Genting Highland."

A part of my reply (I don't know why I even care to reply, but I did for the heck of it!) says:

"This blog is not about comparing who has the bigger sexual organ. And if you are in the habit of doing so, perhaps you should not visit this blog.
Have a good Sunday."

And yesterday, my remark about some people "comparing who has the bigger sexual organ" took a surreal twist, when a piece of news from Singapore was titled "S'porean seeks sponsor to enlarge breasts".

It is here. An extract would not be out of place, just to prove a - or several - points :-

"A YOUNG Singaporean is seeking sponsorship for breast enlargement to enable her to sport a bikini for an online show, China Press reported.

The 22-year-old wants to enlarge her breasts from size 29A to 32C for the online show titled Bored in Bikinis, which requires its hosts to wear bikinis for various activities, including playing games and reading the news."

I rest my case.

But of course, Malaysia has to compete. And so, the Malay Mail reported that KD Tunku Abdul Rahman "remains at the Teluk Sepanggar naval base in Sabah as problems have again resulted in the submarine being docked."

I am restraining myself from writing  my normal four letter word reaction in order to prevent an "x" rating for this article. What the bloody hell is happening? Why are there so many problems with the submarines?

If it cannot dive in tropical waters, why the heck did we buy it in the first place? And how do Singapore and Indonesia manage to make their submarines work properly? The last time I checked, the water there is the same with our water (except Singapore Newater of course!).

Why don't we just buy this?

submarine

We could have saved a hell lot, no?

Then, yesterday we have this news. "A member of parliament was rushed to hospital today after he felt unwell when attending a durian fest and mutton promotion at the multipurpose hall at Parliament House here."

I hope he is okay. Surely we do not want another by-election. Too much money is involved. The country could ill afford it. Petronas is not doing well. Sime Darby is not exactly the definition of "profit making corporation".

But it struck me.

A durian and mutton promotion in the Parliament house?

Is it me or everything is going nuts?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A hook by Minister Hishamuddin; an uppercut by YB KJ and a vodka triple shot by the Federal Court!

I just love my country. Its people. Its leaders. And its Courts.

In one morning, I could shed some tears and I could laugh out loud. Then I could be drowned in a state of disbelief. Jaw-dropping kind of disbelief.

I read three pieces of news this morning.

Firstly, Minister Hishamuddin was quoted by the Malay Mail  imploring Malaysians, particularly "political party leaders" to appreciate the efforts by the "enforcement agencies, especially the police."

Minister Hishamuddin, an UMNO vice-President, was quoted as saying:

"The effort to maintain peace and order in the country continues today by the present security and law enforcement agencies including the police. But the police are often criticised and condemned by society and one was even bitten by a 'wakil rakyat' (elected representative).

If these attacks against the police continue, how can be (sic)  teach about nationhood to the younger generation?"

I agree with him. Credit must be given to the police as and when it is due.

But Minister Hishamuddin should understand that various sections of the society - and this is not limited to political party leaders only - would criticise the police when the police have overstepped their boundary by acting recklessly; or when the police have failed to carry out their duty properly; or when they perpetuate acts of crimes or where they have acted without common decency.

Not all criticisms are justified and I admit that. And some of them are of course politically driven. But surely the police should take proper criticisms on their chin, look at themselves and strive to be better. That is the only hope that the people have.

The police must learn to understand that all the powers that they wield come with responsibilities. The powers are there for a purpose. And when those responsibilities and purpose are not met, or perceived not to be  met, there will be critics.

The critics which the police get however do not negate from all the efforts, the hard work and the commitment, past or present, shown by the police in discharging their duties. I am sure the people appreciate those things.

Just after reading the above news, I stumbled on another piece of news related to the police. Yang Berhormat Khairy Jamaluddin, the UMNO Youth President, lambasted the police for not taking any action to arrest Raja Petra Kamarudin, reports the Malaysian Insider.

He apparently said :-

“Where is the action from the police? Datuk Seri Najib Razak has said the police will be responsible for apprehending Raja Petra. The Inspector-General of Police has said he will get information on Raja Petra’s location, but RPK is going around in public. “Yesterday, RPK was not in hiding; he had attended a Friends of Pakatan Rakyat event in London,”

He continued :-

“Even if they cannot arrest him there, the relationship (between the Malaysian police) and Scotland Yard is there, through the extradition agreement. The British police can arrest RPK and bring him back to Malaysia.

“Are they (the police) unaware, or choose not to know RPK’s movements and location? You have to ask the right questions.

“I want to help the police here."

I really hope Minister Hishamuddin would not take YB Khairy's criticism wrongly. He does have a point to make.

On my part, quite frankly, I do not have a clue why some parliamentarians, leaders and people in authority seem to be obsessed with RPK, his whereabouts, who he is meeting and who is "sponsoring" him. I mean, these topics are even discussed with a certain level of seriousness - which is quite rare, actually - in the Parliament!

On current count, RPK has apparently been sponsored by Kalimullah Hassan; Anwar Ibrahim, Zaid Ibrahim, PKR and Pakatan Rakyat. And I am sure some people think the Zionist and some Jewish movements are also "sponsoring" him.

Isn't there other better and more beneficial things to discuss then who is sponsoring RPK?

I fully understand - and support - what YB KJ has said.

Meanwhile, the Federal Court was not to be left out today. In a decision which is set to "shock and awe" many people, including me, the Federal Court as allowed some clerics from Negeri Sembilan to challenge the constitutionality of a Negeri Sembilan enactment which require the clerics to obtain license to preach Islam, the Malaysian Insider reports.

While the decision is welcome, it makes me wonder what has jolted the Federal Court to suddenly come out with this decision.

The Federal Court's sloth-like willingness to allow any kind of application, appeal or case which challenges any Islamic enactment by any state is well known and is in fact expected by lawyers, litigants and observers.

In matters relating to Islam, it has time and again shirked its judicial responsibility and function by declaring that it has no jurisdiction in matters pertaining to Islam, citing article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution.

This unwillingness or reluctance by our Courts (not restricted to the Federal Courts only) is a blight - among many other blights - on our judiciary. It would thus not be out of place to say that judicial activism is a foreign concept in Malaysia.

And so the Federal Court's decision to allow those clerics to raise the constitutionality of the provisions requiring a license to preach Islam is most welcome. It is my opinion that such provisions are repugnant against the freedom of speech which is guaranteed by the Constitution.

The Federal Constitution is also clear on the fact that only the Parliament - as opposed to the State Legislative Assembly - has the power to limit freedom of speech in accordance with the Constitution.

Judicial activism is a hallmark of a vibrant democracy. A most famous Judge, Lord Denning, in Packer v Packer famously said :-

"What is the argument on the other side? Only this, that no case has been found in which it has been done before. That argument does not appeal to me in the least. If we never do anything which has not been done before, we shall never get anywhere. The law will stand still whilst the rest of the world goes on; and that will be bad for both."

Our Judges should bear in mind what Lord Devlin said :-

"Governments come like water and go with the wind". "The prestige of the judiciary, is the reputation for stark impartiality to be kept up in appearance as well as, in fact. It is not at the disposal of any Government. It is an asset that belongs to the whole nation." 

Justice D.M. Dharmadhikari, an Hounarable Judge of the Supreme Court of India, in a lecture delivered at the Belekar Memorial Lecture Series, organised by High Court Bar Association, Nagpur on August 31, 2002, said :-

"This traditional role of the judiciary is to uphold the law. A constitutional court is expected to discharge constitutional duty to enforce the provisions of the Constitution. In a constitutional democracy, the judiciary is an essential part of the Government and a third source of power. Its function is not merely restricted to deciding impartially the disputes before them in accordance with law. Its more important function may be described as "underpinning the stability of constitutional system and protect it from attacks by resisting attempts to change it."

In far too many instances, I am afraid to say, our Courts have been unwilling to unshackle itself from old and trusted interpretations of the law. New issues are sometime dismissed summarily. When faced with issues which are - for whatever reasons - deemed too sensitive, the Courts quickly cowers within the shadows of article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution and shirk its duties and responsibilities. In many more cases, the Courts find no reason to explore new arguments, let alone consider, analyse and dissect contemporary constitutional arguments proffered by Counsels.

In some instances, Counsels are told - with a wave of a hand - to "move on" to other issues. When a decision is made on those issues, they are just dismissed summarily, as if those arguments are not even worth mentioning. All such judgments or decisions are almost always unanimous and to complete the misery, no ground of judgment is ever provided.

It makes us feel that public interest cases are not welcome. That good and current constitutional arguments are not welcome. That the Courts are unwilling to listen. Let alone consider these new and current arguments.

That it is as if there are bogeymen lurking somewhere under the bench of the Courts, giving endless fear to those who occupy the bench.

If so, I would like to repeat Lord Denning's statement :-

"If we never do anything which has not been done before, we shall never get anywhere. The law will stand still whilst the rest of the world goes on; and that will be bad for both."

 

Friday, July 02, 2010

The 1 Sentence Series #6: Nasir Safar is okay, Zunar is not okay!

I find the Home Ministry's decision to ban some cartoons by Zunar because the contents "can influence the people to revolt against the leaders and government policies" while at the same time Nasir Safar is not to be prosecuted for saying that the Indians are beggars and the Chinese are prostitutes absolutely revolting, two faced, hilarious in its stupidity and is a redefinition of the word, hypocrisy.