Tuesday, 30 March 2010

New Economic Model

The Prime Minister has unveiled what I would like to call a 'preview' of the New Economic Model. The model is now open for public feedback, before it is set in stone during the 10th Malaysia Plan later this year.

I must say the NEM looks promising at the onset, with clear promise to dismantle associating affirmative action with race, and providing help for all those who need it, regardless of race. Sounds promising, but I'll hold my horses until this is actually implemented.

The other two key initiatives under the NEM are to transform Malaysia into a high-income economy, doubling the per capita income from 7k USD per annum to 15k USD per annum, and to ensure a sustainable economy for the future generation. Not much details on how this is to be achieved though.

The PM has, however, unveiled some steps that will help move towards the direction of a sustainable, high-income economy that caters for all races. 1Malaysia.

  • State investor Khazanah to sell 32 percent stake in Pos Malaysia.
  • To list stakes in two Petronas units.
  • Facilitate foreign direct and domestic direct investments in emerging industries/sectors.
  • Remove distortions in regulation and licensing, including replacement of Approved Permit system with a negative list of imports.
  • Reduce direct state participation in the economy.
  • Divest GLCs in industries where the private sector is operating effectively.
  • Strengthen the competitive environment by introducting fair trade legislation.
  • Set up an Equal Opportunity Commission to cover discriminatory and unfair practices.
  • Review remaining entry restrictions in products and services sectors.
  • Phase out price controls and subsidies that distort markets for goods and services.
  • Apply government savings to a wider social safety net for the bottom 40 percent of households, prior to subsidy removal.
  • Have zero tolerance for corruption.
  • Create a transformation fund to assist distressed firms during the refom period.
  • Easing entry and exit of firms as well as high skilled workers.
  • Simplify bankruptcy laws pertaining to companies and individuals to promoteo vibrant entrepreneurship.
  • Improve access to specialised skills.
  • Use appropriate pricing, regulatory and strategic policies to manage non-renewable resources sustainably.
  • Develop a comprehensive energy policy.
  • Develop banking capacity to assess credit approvals for green investment using non-collateral based criteria.
  • Liberalise entry of foreign experts specialising in financial analysis of viability of green technology projects.
  • Reduce wastage and avoid cost overrun by better controlling expenditure.
  • Establish open, efficient and transparent government procurement process.
  • Adopt international best practices on fiscal transparency.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Of Indian beggars and Chinese prostitutes

It has been so long since I last blogged, I almost forgot I have a blog! So I can't blame my readers, yes all two of you, for deserting this space. :)

Humour aside, there was a little less pleasant episode today, when a certain Datuk Nasir, a senior aide to the Prime Minister, no less, went bonkers at a Rapat 1Malaysia seminar where he was representing the Prime Minister.

Dato Nasir was quoted saying that Indians came to these country as beggars, and Chinese women as prostitutes. He had earlier condemned the MIC and the Indian community for 'forcing the government on the 12 subjects in SPM issue'. He is alleged to have then threatened that the government can withdraw citizenship of Indian and Chinese Malaysians, whom he is said to have labelled 'pendatang'.

MIC leaders, including Pemuda MIC, condemns his statement, which is obviously poles apart from his very boss's 1Malaysia concept. We find his statement nothing short of seditious, and have lodged a police report to that effect.

We were informed a short while after we made the report that Dato Nasir had since resigned, and a statement to this effect had been announced by the Prime Minister's office. While Pemuda MIC accepts his apology and resignation as a political response to safeguard the Prime Minister's sincerity in promoting 1Malaysia, we still insist strongly that the police carry out their investigation, and charge Dato Nasir in a court of law for sedition.

Barisan Nasional and the MIC in particular have been working hard to win back the ground that we lost in the last General Election. We are working overtime to prove that we have heard the loud calls for change, and we ARE changing. The people first, performance now motto of the Prime Minister is no show. It is real, it is something seen on the ground. But every now and then, a clown like this comes along to ruin everything we do.

I thank the Prime Minister for his prompt response. I also thank my friends in Pemuda UMNO for standing by us. Let this be a lesson to all in BN, that we must speak with one voice and one vision, if we want to gain back what we have lost. We must reign in the loose cannons that tarnish our collective image.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Get your facts right before protesting

I really wonder if the inability of some Malaysians to differentiate between Hak-hak Keistimewaan orang Melayu, Ketuanan Melayu and Dasar Ekonomi Baru, is intentional, or are they honestly confused?

I write this in response to the protest by an NGO, against DAP MP M. Kulasegaran. Yes, he's from the DAP, I'm from the MIC. We may be on different sides of the political divide, but I think the man deserves a little breathing space, rather than the unjust hounding he is receiving of late with regards to his questioning the Ketuanan Melayu slogan. The NGO has promised to 'look for him no matter which corner of the world he is in, unless he apologizes'. Why apologize?

First, let us look at the three issues. Hak-hak Keistimewaan orang Melayu, or the Special Rights of the Malay community, as enshrined in the constitution, states that Islam is the official religion of the state, but non-Muslims are allowed to practise their religion without fear or favour. It also states that Malay is the official language of the state. THAT is it. Religion, language. THAT is also what our forefathers agreed during the Social Contract.

Ketuanan Melayu on the other hand, is a slogan. It has no official bearing on the nation. It is more of a battle cry, something without a proper legal definition. Instead, it literally means Malay Supremacy, which as its name suggest, is inherently racist. It is NOT something in the constitution, neither is it anywhere in the policy of the nation or government. In fact, it is well against the concept of 1Malaysia, which is exactly what YB Kula has said. So what is there to apologize?

Dasar Ekonomi Baru or New Economic Policy, is a national economic framework, espousing economic benefits, originally meant to give a helping hand to the Malay community to get a slice of the economic pie. It originally came with an expiry date, which is now conveniently forgotten, and has since been extended with every 5-year Malaysia Plan. Again, it is NOT something in the constitution. It is just an economic plan, which by the admission of no less than our Second Finance Minister himself, is crippling the nation's competitive edge.

Nowhere in the constitution does it say that a Bumiputera must receive a discount when he buys a house. It is just something part of a governmental policy, and again, it need not be forever, and is certainly not beyond question or review. Nowhere does it say, also, Bumiputera students should get an easier ride into places of higher education, or should be given priority for scholarship. All that is government policy, done for a certain reason, good or bad, and is certainly not beyond question or review. It is certainly wrong for me, or anyone else, to ask that these policies be reviewed to better suit current times, and a globally changing competitive climate.

The non-Bumiputeras, the majority at least, have no problems with the Special Rights of the Malays, as enshrined by the constitution. That's the Social Contract. We respect that. No problem. Let Islam be the official religion. But don't force it upon us. Because THAT violates OUR constitutional rights. Let Malay be the official language of the Federation. But don't rob us of our rights to speak, read, write and be educated in our mother languages. Because THAT is our constitutional right.

What we ARE asking, and questioning, is merely the OTHER two. Get rid of Ketuanan Melayu. It's racist. Instead, let us embrace 1Malaysia. Get rid of DEB. It has outlived its usefullness. Replace it instead with a system that helps the poor across all race and religious boundaries. Again, that is 1Malaysia.

Just because someone questions something well within their rights to question, doesn't mean you can claim that the person 'should not say anything that can jeopardize the harmony among the races'. In the first place, if I, or anyone else, asks a LEGITIMATE question, and someone gets upset unnecessarily, arrest him instead! Of course, if someone DOES question the Special Rights of the Malays as enshrined in the constitution, then one can at least justify condemning him. But to confuse Ketuanan Melayu and DEB with the Special Rights, is not only wrong, it is downright cunning.

So the next time you want to come out on the streets and protest, and ask for our blood, get your facts right first!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

10 Subject Ceiling for SPM - What's the big deal?

Well, it IS a big deal. Here's why. Let us take a typical Science stream SPM students. Now, seven subjects are compulsory. They are Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mathematics, Moral Studies (or Islamic studies for Muslims), History and two Science Subjects out of the main three, i.e. Physics, Chemistry and Biology. (For Arts stream, it's six, i.e. the five core subjects, and Basic Science). Most schools plan their time table in such a way, that it is pretty much a 'package deal' that a pure science student would take all the three science subjects, and Additional Maths. So that makes it nine subjects. Which means, the student has only one extra subject to take, and more often than not, it would be Accounts, or another subject that is already being taught in the school. There you go, ten. Maximum. Which also means, the student is pretty much prevented from taking Tamil, Tamil Literature and/or Chinese, Chinese Literature.

The Director-General of Education released a nonsensical statement today defending the ten subject rule, saying a student can always drop an elective subject, say Physics, to accommodate a vernacular subject, if the student was interested in pursuing a career in medicine. He went on to even suggest that schools may offer vernacular subjects as 'certificate courses', with school-level assessment. Third, he had the audacity to suggest that vernacular subjects were not that important, since "education is continuous, so the students can always study vernacular subjects later". Downright idiotic!

I can't speak for my Chinese friends, but I know for a fact that Tamil language is facing extinction, within Malaysian Indians. Many can't even speak proper Tamil, let alone read and/or write. We have an uphill battle keeping Tamil alive, as it is, without the Education Ministry further frustrating efforts with their new ruling.

Besides, how many students are willing to sacrifice subjects taught in school, just to take Tamil and/or Tamil Literature. How can we expect a student, at four four, barely sixteen, to drop Physics since he is planning to do medicine, and take Tamil instead? I think that's a rather heavy decision to force on a student, considering dropping Physics would put him/her at a disadvantage in pursuing many career paths!

Even if a student is really keen in taking Tamil as an SPM subject, at the heavy cost of another subject, how many schools even have proper teachers teaching Tamil? The Ministry actually has a ruling that a school must have a minimum of fifteen students taking the subject, to even offer classes. This conveniently allows many schools to forget the subject even exists, or even discourage students taking an extra subject. Students who take Tamil at SPM level today, already do so at a great disadvantage, and put in individual effort. To do so after the new ruling, and pay such a high price, even I would not dare to encourage someone to take Tamil! Even if somehow, the student finds a way to squeeze in Tamil, you can sure as anything, forget about Tamil Literature in addition to that!

We're not asking for much. Just increase the maximum to 12 subjects. It shouldn't be that great a deal, considering only last year we had students boasting up to 21 A's in the newspapers. So if we could have students taking that many subjects previously, I don't see any considerable reason why we need to be so stringent all of a sudden. Unless of course, as some claim, and I sure hope not, there IS a planned, secret agenda to rid the country of vernacular education. I for one, and the MIC that I represent, will simply NOT LET THAT HAPPEN!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Polis Raja di Malaysia v2.0

The same headlines are back. Indian youth(s) shot by police. As usual, it is always 'a case self defense', and the dead are 'known to have a criminal history'. The usual miracle of course, not one cop has a scratch, not one suspect is spared. Just how does one define 'criminal history' by the way? Did those arrested have a record of past convictions? Does that amount to criminal history? Or did they merely have their name jotted down in some detective's diary as suspects in some yet unsolved case?

To make matters worse, the sister of one of the accused, in a fit of madness after hearing of her brother's demise, decides to end her own life with paraquat. But not before feeding her four children with it! She just died this afternoon, while her children are still warded. Sad. Stupid, but sad.

Whatever it is, extrajudicial killing is murder. Nothing less and nothing more. It is something that cannot be tolerated. The police are paid with taxpayer's money. We, the rakyat, pay you, the police, to serve us! Not shoot us. If someone does something wrong, arrest them, charge them!

Within days of the Famous Five, another guy gets killed. Deva gang's leader they say. Fancy that. I always thought Deva Gang's leader would be a guy called Deva. Anyway, whatever his name, he's dead now. No questions, no answers. Dead.

That's not all. In Johor, we have a case of a mentally unstable man, who allegedly killed his own mom, dead in police custody, hanging himself with a pillowcase. Why was a mentally unstable murder suspect given a pillow case which he can use to hang himself, apart from many other things, in the first place? I didn't know that was a luxury we provided in our lockups!

The sad truth is, this is not the first time we hear such stories, and it will not be the last, unless something concrete is done. Let's put an end to this once and for all. Bring the IPCMC. Enough delaying. Install cameras in all police patrol cars. It will cost peanuts compared the other rubbish we waste government money on!

Friday, 23 October 2009

The PM presented the governments budget for 2010 in parliament a few minutes ago. Below are some of the key items he has announced. They items below are a compilation of my status updates in Facebook, as the PM was giving his budget speech.
  • PM has finished presenting the budget, ended his speech with spirited promises of 1Malaysia for all.
  • RM 500 one-off payments for civil servants and pensioners, up to grade 58.
  • Public Transport to be given priority. New Komuter trains, LRTs, stations to be improved.
  • EPF increased to 11% voluntary, special scheme for self-employed, tax rebate increased to 7k from current 6k.
  • 3 billion units of Sukuk 1Malaysia announced.
  • 1Malaysia clinics to be introduced in housing areas, 50 clinics to begin with, manned by MAs, to improve public healthcare. Clinics to be open until 10pm daily.
  • Federal Territories Ministry renamed Federal Territory and Public Welfare Ministry, measures announced to curb urban poverty.
  • Various measures announced to eradicate hardcore poverty, women empowerment.
  • Crime prevention to be given top priority, especially snatch thefts. Various measures announced to beef up police and other agencies.
  • Income tax reduced from 27% to 26%, personal relief increased from 8k to 9k per person.
  • New system to ensure only those who are needy receive gov subsidies, including discounted petrol price, using Mykad, to be introduced early 2010.
  • RM 50 per year service tax per credit card, RM 25 per supplementary card. This is to reign in credit expenditure.
  • In battle against corruption, Gov to introduce Whistle-blower Act, 14 new Sessions Court, MACC to be beefed up.
  • Gov to review laws, take stern action to curb Ah Long menace.
  • Gov universities to be given greater autonomy in HR and student matters, allowed to form companies to generate income.
  • PM announces Netbooks with broadband for 100,000 uni students, at discounted price, by TM, MCMC.
  • 30 National Scholarships for top achievers, purely on merit, to study in top unis around the world. P
  • Preschool to be absorbed into school curriculum, to increase entrance percentage from 67% to 87% by 2012, 20 schools to be made 'Prestige Schools', autonomy in school administration.
  • PM has announced tax rebate up to RM500 per year for broadband subscription.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Deepavali Nalvazhtukkal

Happy Deepavali to all Hindus, and happy holidays to all! Hope you have a blessed celebration. Let us not forget the less fortunate during these festive times, and let us build greater bonds with family and friends as we all celebrate together.