Sabah: Fixed Deposit, Small Returns


 The Land Below the Wind i.e Sabah , has for a sizable part of its existence in Malaysia, been the Land Below the Radar for the Barisan Nasional coalition. They’ve shut up all these while because the power base has for the large part remained with Umno.

Read more about Sabah, rich in natural resources, but with the highest number of people living below poverty line,  in this exhaustively researched Wikipedia entry.

I’ve said before in this blog that after the GE 2008, BN owes its hold on federal power (however tenuous) thanks to Sabah and Sarawak, and the Cabinet appointments must reflect this fact, for equitable representation if not sheer gratitude.

The BN coalition won 24 out of 25 Parliament seats, and 58 out of 60 State seats in Sabah. That is almost carte blanche. If these 24 seats went to the PAS/PKR/DAP alliance, the difference would have been razor thin. Can you imagine a ruling the country with BN: Opposition ratio like 116:106? And that is just Sabah.

You would think that a state that had supported Barisan for a long time would be taken care of. But no. The announcement of the Cabinet by Pak Lah last week was highly anticipated, but delivered little in terms of Sabah representation.

And the Sabahans are tired of keeping quiet about it. Read this report from last week.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has reportedly described Sabah as a “fixed deposit” for BN.

Sabah Umno Assistant Secretary Masidi Manjun said yesterday,

“We (Sabah) have been dubbed Barisan’s fixed deposit (bastion). At the moment, we feel that we are not getting enough interest from our fixed deposit. 

“If the interest is not good, people will put it elsewhere,” said Masidi, adding that many people in the state were disappointed with the current representation.

Thinly veiled threat, that. Although Pak Lah named the same number of cabinet ministers as he did in 2004 (three), he upped the number of deputy ministers from two to four.Three of the deputy minister have since quit, including Ghapur Salleh, who left his Natural Resources and Environment posting yesterday.

Some say it is a sign that the Sabah representation in the federal government needs a re-look. What I’ve been reading indicates so much more needs attention in this country

DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang talked about the worrying hardcore poverty levels in January this year and asked what Pak Lah was going to do about it.

Mat Tyson said after he was named to the Rural Development portfolio that he was going to tour the country to hear people’s woes. Maybe he should start in Sabah.

The population boom in Sabah is explosive. I could choose to think that Sabahans breed like rabbits. But that would make me an idiot. There is a more sinister reason, as was suggested in this Daily Express story.

Richard Leete of UNDP has some interesting charts to show you the demographical shift as well as other statistics in Sabah. At least 23 % of Sabah’s 3.3 million population lives below poverty line, in 2004. This is 8% down from the 1990 statistics. Eight percent in 14 years. Four more years have passed since than. How much do you think, the poverty levels would have fallen by now?

Maybe the situation wouldn’t be so bad without the “New Sabahans” that got bumiputera status because some Peninsular-based political behemoth wanted supremacy over the Kadazandusuns in Sabah? Read this story and weep. 

There are people in the Peninsular Malaysia who have lived here for more than 50 years, but are still just penduduk tetap. There are lots of people in Sabah who barely even speak Bahasa, and have been here less than 10 years, but are part of the voting population.

Go figure!

Clueless in Malaysia


It is Human Rights day. A concept that is largely amorphous in Malaysia, at least for the Malaysian government. What rights do you and I have today, I ask you? Not much.

This is a country where the Prime Minister says no one is above the law, and yet Khairy Jamalludin gets away with shouting anti-American rhetorics during Condi Rice’s visit to Kuala Lumpur in the recent past, just because “Dia Menantu Saya”.

This is a country where 31 people who attended the Hindraf rally on Nov 25 were denied bail pending a ridiculous charge of attempted murder. Gani Patail probably came up with that fucked up rationale thinking, if I were to charge them with illegal assembly, their lawyers would say the law is unconstitutional.

But then, this is Gani Patail who made a pathetic case for Pulau Batu Buteh at the ICJ in The Hague using a doctored photo, probably the son’s idea, whadaya think?

Pathetic or Patail-tic?

In the meantime, the Hindraf trio who organised these fellas to rally that day, were still not charged. Kepala biar, ekor kasi potong. WTF?

Today Jeff Ooi dropped by the Commercial Crime Investigations Department in Jalan Dato Onn for a “friendly chat” with the cops. The guy went with lawyers Gobind Singh, Lim Lip Eng and K.A Ramu.

He was asked a series of questions,  some of which doesn’t need his presence to be answered. This was based on not the three Mamak reports, but a fourth report by someone allegedly offended by Ooi’s remarks on Aljazeera TV.

These cops are very very hardworking when it comes persecuting those they want to “get”. I get that feeling increasingly, as everyday dawns. Just last night I was heading towards Central Market to get some books at a book rental there, and I was stopped twice by cops asking me where I was going. Racial Profiling? Probably…last night was supposed to be the candlelight vigil at Dataran Merdeka for the 31 Hindraf marchers behind bars. And I’m a local Indian chick.

This is just one of the many signs of the authorities being the blind pit bulls of a government that fast losing credibility in the eyes of its own people. If the government was so concerned about its tarnished image, then how come we have blatant cases of abuses of power and privilege today that goes unchecked.

I’m talking about how the old man said in an interview last year that Kamalludin Abdullah, his son, does not get his business from Malaysian government, but overseas. Remember that statement? It is my pleasure to remind you if you don’t.

In the light of that, tell me, how do you justify Scomi Group getting the plush Scomi Monorail job? If Pak Lah was interested in keeping his word and his image unsullied, how do you explain this?

Everyone tells you, yeah Scomi is Pak Lah’s son’s company and all that. But it is interesting to know how much stake he has. Go check it out here. It’s public information. Might give you perspective.

With all these walks and rallies happening these days, one can be forgiven for not noticing the continued rape of Malaysia on other fronts.

In the meantime, the plight of the poorer Malaysians; Malays, Indians, Chinese and other ethnicities, get swept under the carpet.

Samy Vellu today gave statistics I never heard of before. I’m sorry, old man. It still doesn’t absolve you. What do those statistics mean in real terms? I wanna know.

Things are looking UP!


Yeah…

The civil service people got a pay rise announced not too long ago. This no doubt brought a lot of relief to those honest people whose creative antics wasn’t featured in the Auditor General’s report (those who didn’t scam the state with bogus invoices and pocket the loot while cooking the books).

Clap Clap n all that. But you know what? The reality is quite dire. Things are much worse than what the spin doctors are telling you on your feel-good terrestrial TV and mainstream media.

Everything is going up. I mean prices, of course. What isn’t expensive these days, one Malaysian can very well ask another.

Flour prices went up, which has a cascading effect in all flour-based products from your roti canai to bagels, croissants, roti benggali, buns, sandwiches, noodles….you name it.

Pak Lah said there will be no fuel price hike this year. I repeat, 2007. There’s less than 2 months left of 2007. What happens come January? You thought that the unprecedented

price hike of 30 sen last year would mean we don’t have any more hikes for the next two years? You would be wrong.

Fuel prices are exceeding US90 per barrel. So brace yourselves, fellow Bolehsians, for another round of hikes. Rising fuel prices will push transportation costs and this in turn will have repercussions throughout the market.

In the meantime, your salary and mine are not soaring in tandem. Our purchasing power is being eroded steadily. From this report, some excerpts.

 Mydin Mohamed Holdings Bhd (MMHB) managing director Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin looks at increasing prices differently.  

“Undoubtedly, prices for almost everything are going up, but is anything wrong with that?”  

He believes that if prices globally are increasing, there has to be a pass-through mechanism implemented by the Government.  

“We cannot live in an isolated world. In this globalised economy, we cannot have a protected economy.  - The Star

Yet shopping malls are springing up like cendawan lepas hujan in this country.

Who can afford more than window shopping these days in KL? The businessmen, the idle rich….the expats? The rest of us Malaysians will continue to be burdened by rising costs till one day it becomes susah mau cari makan.

This Mydin guy said something else worth thinking about.

He said the wages of Malaysians had also been artificially kept low. 

Citing the example of his starting salary 26 years ago at RM1,400, Ameer Ali said: “Now, I am employing graduates at the same salary. There is something wrong here. In every other developed country, the minimum wage has increased by at least 100%.”  

He said certain measures taken have helped the country in its early development stages. 

“But we have to get out of this rut and become a consumption-based economy. When you increase wages, you can increase the price of flour or petrol. So, the person who now earns more is also paying more, but all subsidies have been removed.”  - The Star

In the meantime, the government plots more ways to ensure we suffer, directly or indirectly. The highway concessionaires seem to have got us by our collective throats, and so, we ensure toll hikes almost every year, (especially KL-ites)

And while the scheming and plotting is going on, they get to do it in the luxurious confines of Palace of the Golden Horses. And Zulhasnan Rafique announces it without malu and segan.

WTF !?

What a Gag!!


I can’t help but notice two stories today that related directly to the state of affairs in Bolehland. First was this one about MIC’s Sothinathan getting the PPP’s Kayveas to “refrain” from saying anything defamatory about him. 

Now this his legal recourse which he is entitled to…especially since Kayveas’ comeback to Samy Vellu’s remarks calling him a mosquito was a rather loaded “mosquitos can give you Dengue”. Sothi, the fighter-cock of MIC, earned his political spurs in 2005 after being blooded in a parliament fracas that had him suspended for 3 months for not toeing the Coalition party line.
 In another story the alleged 27 million ringgit man Ramli Yusuff of the Commercial Crime Investigative Department was chided by the Cabinet pit bull for going to the press to clear his name. He should have used the courts to do the deed, His Canine Excellency opined. 
Well, the way I see it, all this gagging people from speaking up has long become a culture in Malaysia. There are several ways that people reacted to this institutionally forced sewing-up-of-the lips exercise. 
Firstly, there are those who spoke up nonetheless. This group is either untouchable for a multitude of reasons (royalty, ex-CEO of the country, some relative or pseudo-relative of the ruling family) or are not important enough to be pad attention. (Nyamuk, in Samy Vellu’s words) 
Secondly, there are those who speak up and face consequences. Bloggers Rocky and Jeff Ooi get lawsuits, Raja Petra Kamaruddin (and his wife) and Nathaniel Tan get hauled to your friendly neighbourhood Dang Wangi police headquarters. Malaysiakini get its PCs hauled away. Sang Kelembai gets sacked from Umno. Bakri Musa is told not to come back. In the not-so-distant past, the deal included Kamunting R&R but then according to some people, the Pak Lah administration sees more “freedom for media and people”, so the Kamunting retreat is apparently no longer available. I hope not. 
Thirdly is the majority, the silent majority who voted these morons (borrowing a bit of Pasqualism here) into power (I’m sure it was for lack of better morons). They have been threatened and shouted and coerced into submission, silence and conformity. Of course there are the more creative ones who chose to still speak up, but do so behind the anonymity of pseudonyms. The anonymous bloggers have a very good reason to stay behind their nomme-de-blog, despite Shaziman Mansor calling them Penembak Curi (snipers). Personally, I rather like the term sniper. Reminds me of Day of the Jackal…coooooolio!
Anyway, I digress. I wanted to say that if you declared yourselves, you would then fall into the second category and voila! PERSECUTIONS GALORE!! After all, in Bolehland, the messenger gets shot, drawn, quartered and flayed…and the message…what message? It has been demonstrated time and time again, from Judge Syed Ahmad Idid (the poison pen letter incident) in the 90s’ till the Lingam, Judge-fixing and YouTube today. 
This is why, readers, you and I have the responsibility to do more than just write/surf blogs, express ourselves with some witty/nasty/thought-provoking comments, and generally bitch at the appalling state of affairs in Malaysia. Show your willingness to be part of a symbolic exercise aimed at reclaiming the citizens’ right to equality, justice and good governance. Let no Pit Bull or Great Danes or old mongrel from the elected house tell you that bloggers represent a minority.  
Turn up for the rally on November 10, 2007 at Dataran Merdeka and wear something yellow. Some practical advice to all: WEAR GOGGLES…lest your friendly neighbourhood FRU guys makes u cry. 

Have Tool Will Screw!


Rejoice, fellow Malaysians! Taxpayers are being screwed with some really expensive screwdrivers. In this country of blatant abuse of authority and power, in-your-face corruption and up-close-and-personal intimidation, here’s another dollop of icing on the graft cake.

The Star, which have been plagued by worries about its dwindling weekend circulation since upping the weekend newspaper price by 30 sen, has to give some juicy reading and so it did with The Great Malaysian Screw today.

Here are snippets that makes for riveting reading from the Auditor General’s report.

Among these were technical books consisting 10 titles that had a price tag of RM10,700 and a 3.1 megapixel digital camera that was bought for RM8,254. 

Nice. Here’s more shit where that came from.

According to the report, consultants for the Youth and Sports Ministry had reached an estimated price tag of RM399.67mil for the equipment for the IKBN project which later ballooned to RM767.98mil after two appeals by the ministry for additional allocations. 

“The ministry said more money was needed in anticipation of a bigger student population and that getting equipment from the same supplier meant prices would remain the same. 

“But there was no proof that market research was done to identify the prices of the items and equipment because minutes for the negotiation meetings were not prepared,” the report said. 

It said without the minutes, the auditing team was unable to find out if efforts were made to reduce prices. 

Interesting reading isn’t it? And then I have to see the NST frontpage today where that guy allegedly managed to make RM4billion disappear overnight in a speculative free-for-all in the ’90s (remember?) tell us that this is THE PEOPLE’S BUDGET…..

….and that WE have RM10billion in our pockets. Dei macha! Someone must have forgotten to tell Nor Muhammad Yakcop that EPF is the employee’s money to begin with.

Love Me Tender…


It’s all over the news (read here and here) in Malaysia. The Prime Minister gets hitched this Saturday. Rather attractive woman I must say. Pak Lah’s wedding is indeed a nice, happy news for us all. He said his bride Jean Danker or Jeanne Abdullah as she will now be known, can take care of him.

We Malaysians must indeed rejoice that a lonely man gets a partner to get older with. Congrats, best wishes and all those sort of things to Pak Lah and family.

As “children” of Malaysia, we kids certainly welcome the addition to the first family, a fact that the Prime Minister laughed off a few months ago when intrepid bloggers who (sometimes) can’t be shut up with a phone call broke the story. Ah….RPK. One of ‘em here as a cheeky reminder. Tsk Tsk Sheih…naughty but accurate.

Uncle Sam(y) of course has to outdo everyone else and he does it in style with a poem. Cool!

Now, the wedding will apparently be a small, family-only affair…oops sorry, wrong choice of words….i mean to say occasion. I applaud. It is indeed only dignified for two middle-aged people to want to marry without pomp and ceremony. Anyway, Raja Nazrin of Perak got married in a simple ceremony recently too, and spared the state coffers; a rare and refreshing gesture of circumspection from Malaysia’s royalty.

I think it is kinda sweet of the old guy to publicly say he fell in love…recently. Forgive me, whenever someone gets hitched, I always go into this teasing mode. Sheesh! Simply can’t help it. Well why not? Love knows no age….though a friend once said the older you are when u fall in love, the more troublesome it is.

Outgoing British PM Tony Blair actually had a baby while in office (his wife Cherie, rather). Which starts me speculating about my hitherto straightlaced view of No 10, Downing Street. Sitting Prime Ministers actually do it in the official residence eh? With their wives too….hmm.

Sorry I digressed too far away…

I wonder though, if this means Pak Lah will have a second honeymoon in three years…