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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Unity among Chinese nothing to do with MCA

By Stanley Koh | FMT

The Chinese community in rejecting MCA at the 2008 general election is indicative that the community has not only awaken to the fact the party is no longer relevant and effective in representing its interests, but that it has expanded its political horizon towards a two-party system.

Moreover, new perceptions are emerging that the unity of the Chinese community is no longer dependable or factored by the prevailing leadership status of MCA.

Today’s scenario remain status quo even as in 1988, the Chinese Guilds and Associations blamed MCA leadership under Dr Ling Liong Sik as weak and did not truly live up to the aspirations of the community.

MCA in short has failed to feel the pulse of the community as many younger generations are colour blind and have no confidence in a race-based policy-making nation.

Its survival is threatened by the growth of a two-party system nurtured by a growing population of old and young voters irrespective of racial groupings.

In 1988, Michael Yeoh currently Asli’s CEO who was the chief administrative director presented a classified paper on a number of options for MCA to choose at the crossroads.

MCA was at a political crossroads during a time when Umno was dragged to the courts and was declared unlawful.

When Umno Baru was formed to replace the Umno that was declared unlawful, MCA led by Ling was placed in a leadership dilemma in terms of placing its patronage and loyalty.

Pros and cons of partnership

Five options were stated in the classified paper for MCA leadership to consider.

Firstly, accept the status quo of Umno led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Secondly, MCA leaders to resign all government posts but remain in BN.

The third option was to quit BN and stay as independents.

To consider whether MCA should quit BN and form new alliances as the fourth option and the last resort to de-register the party.

Umno was split into Team A (Umno Baru quoted as status quo) and a splinter group under Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah leading Team B.

Michael in listing out the “pros and cons’ argued the advantages and disadvantages of MCA facing the crossroads.

“Merits supporting the status quo of Umno Baru would prevent uncontrollable outcome of an Emergency Rule and that might allow a two-party system to take root,” stated the paper.

“By threatening of a MCA withdraw from BN might place the party in a better bargaining power to negotiate as such a move could trigger other component parties leaving the coalition.

“Perhaps, MCA can get some crumbs and even more crumbs,” Michael wrote.

MCA threatened by two-party system

Arguments against supporting Umno Baru (Team A) included that MCA should not be dragged down with the sinking ship and that the MCA could no longer trust Umno under the Dr Mahathir’s leadership because of the leadership’s arrogance and failure to deliver its promises to MCA.

“The mood of the people clamouring for change expected MCA to be a leader and not a follower,” the 1988 classified paper stated.

Today the MCA under the leadership of Chua remains at a crossroads.

Threatened by a two-party system and a predicament of worsening lack of confidence from Malaysian voters, the MCA’s future political survival is at stake.

It is becoming a political parasite to Umno and its survival is doubtful even within Chinese majority electoral constituencies.

Hence, how relevant or true is MCA’s claim that the two-party system is becoming a race system? The answer perhaps lies within Umno, the predator of race-based policies.

MCA is misguided into challenging DAP onto a formal debate on the race system.

The historical evidence above justified that the answers should lie within the MCA-Umno hegemony since both are predominantly race-based parties.

The Chinese proverb – “one step in the wrong direction will cause a thousand years of regret” – remains true today.

Would the same be happening if MCA in the 50s had joined a multiracial platform instead of a single race-based party called Umno?

Indeed, wisdom lies in the following Chinese proverb, which says: “ren jian li er bu jian hai, yu jian shi er bu jian gou”. Translated it means MCA at that time “like a fish only saw the bait but not the hook”.

Stanley Koh is a former head of MCA’s research unit. He is a FMT columnist.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Malaysia’s 13 best scams

By Selina Tay | FMT

Forget about the African-based black money scam. The biggest scams in Malaysia are those conceived by the Barisan Nasional federal government.

It is they who are professional scam-masters par excellence and they have two types of scams: the Money Scam and the Concept Scam.

This write-up will list both types of scams for your perusal.

First of all, the Money Scam:

1. SARA (Skim Amanah Rakyat) – This is the greatest investment scam ever. Dump in RM5,000 cash at one go and you will get RM13,000 in five years’ time. This is just too good to be true because the returns are more than doubled but still there will be many gullible “investors”. However, there are some who say that this is a scheme by the government to obtain the rakyat’s money to finance handouts to the rakyat during the campaign duration of the 13th general election. Whether there is any truth to this or not, only the wise can tell.

2. 1Care – this will just involved the rakyat paying more to the government and its cronies where health facilities are concerned. This scam is targeted at enriching the elite and the well-connected as is the purpose for all the scams.

3. EPF Housing Loan Scheme – this scheme is dangerous to the EPF contributors and could lead to a similar situation akin to the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the US if there are too many loan defaulters. EPF is rightly named the government’s Eternal Pilferage Fund and has now ended up as the government’s treasure chest. All the private sector workers who contribute to this fund have to protest. This shows that the BN government has run out of money in trying to help the rakyat and is now using the rakyat’s money to help the rakyat.

4. 1Malaysia products, badges, stickers, mugs, whatever – the purpose of these products is to enrich the corny manufacturer. Enough said.

5. BR1M (Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia) – has all the money (more than RM2 billion) allocated for this purpose been distributed? Some opined that part of the funds will be channelled into BN’s general election campaign machinery. No prizes for guessing, though, as BR1M is much shrouded in secrecy. All those who applied for this RM500 aid should be getting this cash because only those eligible will apply. Therefore, it defies logical explanation when there are still people who fail to obtain this cash aid. Thus, this has given rise to speculation that applicants staying in opposition areas where BN has no chance of winning will not be given this aid. This then begs the question where the remaining undistributed allocated funds will be chanelled to, a question which the BN government will surely find difficult to answer.

Next comes the Concept Scam:

6. 1Malaysia – the most prominent Concept Scam which is engineered to create a mind-numbing cult following with everyone chanting “1Malaysia, 1Malaysia” in a hypnotised state similar to what goes on in cult sessions. There is no solid foundation to this concept although Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has the gumption to state that this is a philosophy. Even those in his own camp do not adhere to this philosophy, not to mention practise it wholeheartedly 24/7. 1Malaysia is thus a concept to delude the masses, to cheat the people into voting for BN.

7. GTP (Government Transformation Programme) and ETP (Economic Transformation Programme) – these twin transformation programmes have transformed the pockets of government cronies from millionaires into billionaires and maybe even trillionaires. As for the rest of the ordinary rakyat, all we get is nothing but hot air.

8. NKRAs (National Key Result Areas) and NKEAs (National Key Economic Areas) – lengthy names but more of the same fluff.

9. NEM (New Economic Model) – is this dead and buried?

10. EOC (Equal Opportunities Commission) – this IS dead and buried. It should have been part of the NEM but was omitted due to intense pressure-lobbying from certain quarters.

11. Talent Corp – much money has been channelled into this corporation to promote Malaysia as a place of golden opportunities in order to attract Malaysian talent living overseas to return to these golden shores. Has the success rate of Talent Corp been published? Seems to have gone into near-oblivion.

12. E-mail scam – why must money be paid to a certain company just for sending out e-mails when there is free-of-charge e-mail service readily available on the world wide web?!

13. The 13th general election – this has been labelled the “mother of all battles” by the BN leaders and therefore it follows that this must be the mother of all scams because it involves money, concept (BN’s sloganeering) and the future of the nation; this is big-time scamming indeed. In this scam, foreign workers are given citizenship and their names inserted into the voter rolls to enable them to vote in the coming general election. This scam can result in the negation of Malaysian votes and therefore the true election results are subverted.

From the above listing, it leaves us no doubt that we are living in scam-country. The ideas that go into each scam is elaborate and simple at the same time. And really so many ideas!

By the way, has anyone noticed that Najib is the one and only prime minister who has spewed forth the most number of acronyms showcasing his so-called bold initiatives?

It is time for the rakyat to wake up to all these “bold initiatives” which are in fact well-designed scams. It is also a salient point to note that suddenly the SARA and BR1M scams are running concurrently so close to the general election. Is there anything to this? Mind you, these scams can generate much funds for the government.

All said and done, we must put an end to all these scams. Otherwise, it will seem that we enjoy getting duped by a bunch of crooked professional scammers.

Selena Tay is a FMT columnist.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Shahrizat is Najib’s millstone

By Mariam Mokhtar | Malaysiakini

There was one serious flaw in the success story of Malaya: The emergent Malaysia bred generations of Malay politicians who, when caught with their hands in the public kitty, will do anything to hang on to power.

They continue nonchalantly because they are confident their peers will play along with the charade.

They delight in “proving their innocence” by swearing on the Quran. Some think that by seeking absolution from God, by going on umrahs, they are able to convince the god-fearing public, that the pilgrimage is a testament of their innocence.

The National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) scandal hangs like a millstone around the neck of the Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.

Acting like a wounded animal, she has chosen to belittle Islam, and cast doubt on the intelligence of Malaysians. She has even striven to involve Wanita Umno.

On her return from the umrah, Shahrizat said: “Why have I went [sic] to Mecca three times in two-and-a-half months? Because I’m God-fearing, I ask for guidance from Allah.”

Instead of inviting understanding and compassion, Shahrizat only increased our contempt of her. How can Shahrizat spend so much time away from work? What is her ministry’s Key Performance Index? How can she waste so much of the taxpayers’ money on three trips to Saudi Arabia, in as many months?

Are we to infer that holy visits are a proof of innocence? In times of austerity, how did she stretch her ministerial wage?

Perhaps, the opposition should table a parliamentary motion for all ministers to declare their expenses, and NOT just their assets.

The fault is not her’s entirely. The whole award system lacks transparency. The MACC and the police drag their feet on investigations. The prime minister only pretends to act like one.

The RM250 million of misappropriated public funds swirl around the NFC, whose chairman Mohamed Salleh Ismail is Shahrizat’s husband.

Money not disbursed to satellite ranchers

Their children are also implicated and it is alleged that they have business dealings with other ministerial children.

The Auditor-General, Ambrin Buang, has stated that the audit was not on the NFC, as a whole, and that it established that the NFC had failed to meet its target.

The audit was merely to ascertain why money was not disbursed to the satellite ranchers despite being channelled to the ministry/NFC.

In an interview with Rafizi Ramli (left), the PKR strategic director who highlighted the NFC scandal, PKR used the audit report to demand accountability in government funding: “We carried out our own investigation and followed leads provided by whistleblowers.

“The resultant exposés are clear indictments that public funds had been channelled outside NFC to benefit the family of a federal minister.”

Rafizi alleged that various companies which had been set up and received NFC funding, were owned wholly by Shahrizat’s family. Capital assets of the NFC had no relevance to the cattle industry and targets agreed with the government were not achieved.

Simple questions were asked: “When these businesses don’t seem to be making money, who is going to repay the loans?

“Why was this company, owned by a minister’s family, chosen as an integrator for this project when they had no experience in the cattle industry and they openly admitted this?

“Why did they transfer money to entities controlled by them and then go on shopping sprees?

“This is a government-funded project, why did they spend exorbitantly when the targets were not met?”

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin defended the NFC project and rejected opposition demands for a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) to investigate the NFC, because he claimed that current investigations were sufficient.

Rafizi rubbished his comments and said: “The NFC scandal has come to a stage where normal investigation will not be able to unravel the extent of abuse and political interference. That is why Pakatan has stepped up calls for an RCI.

“We started with revelations of financial misappropriation of public funds, but gradually we discovered that the extent was worse than anticipated.

“Lately, there had been clear attempts to cover up the scandal. This suggests that public officials were coerced into making statements favourable to the NFC.”

‘Shady deals’ conducted behind the scene

Asked if the AG had made a U-turn, Rafizi said: “It was unprecedented for the Auditor-General to bow down to political pressure.

“We have also established the modus operandi used to transfer funds to companies or business entities owned by the minister’s family.”

Rafizi alleged that many shady deals were being conducted behind the scenes, despite Najib’s claims that NFC’s assets had been frozen.

“There is a frantic move to restructure the groups and transfer assets so as to cover their tracks, in preparation for a media blitz by NFC, later this month.

“So this is no longer an issue about cows. It is about the whole weight of government resources and machinery being bent to save a minister, whose family has clearly misappropriated public funds for purposes not agreed by the government.

“A scandal of this scale requires a far reaching investigation that only an RCI has the power to accomplish.”

Supporting calls for investigations into the NFC is DAP’s Lim Kit Siang (right) who has urged patriotic Malaysians “to demand in a loud and clear voice an RCI into the NFC scandal”.

Rafizi agreed: “Public pressure is paramount to this effort. Najib’s administration lives in fear of a public backlash, so they monitor activities on the internet and carry out surveys regularly to gauge the public sentiment.”

The PKR strategic director discussed tactics to make the government accede to an RCI.

“To those who are bold enough to participate in a rally, please also organise rallies and get people to participate.

“Letters to online media, mainstream newspapers and government websites will help maintain the pressure.

“Better still, if people interact constantly with the prime minister via twitter to pressure him for an RCI on NFC – he would be pressured one way or another to respond. Comments made at PM’s blog and online media do make a lot of difference.”

Later this month, Rafizi will team up with Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin, on a nationwide campaign.

“We will sell books and meet the public to explain why an RCI is necessary. As this gathers momentum, we need the public to show up at these roadshows. We hope Najib has no option but to agree to an RCI.”

Following the opposition’s investigations, Rafizi stressed that several questions had been directed at both Najib and the BN.

“So far no answers have been forthcoming.”

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a non-conformist traditionalist from Perak, a bucket chemist and an armchair eco-warrior. In ‘real-speak’, this translates into that she comes from Ipoh, values change but respects culture, is a petroleum chemist and also an environmental pollution-control scientist.

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