When warned by Malaysia's Foreign Minister Rais Yatim not to meddle in Malaysia's affairs, Rice stated firmly that 'We are always going to speak up on human rights cases, political cases, but again we do so in a spirit of respect for Malaysia'. Condoleezza had also brushed off Rais Yatim's statement that this was an 'internal affair', saying ' The United States doesn't recognize that it is simply internal affairs when a case of this kind comes up. We want to see transparency and for rule of law to be completely followed..' which means to say this is now US business and you all better not mug around with human rights.
Last Wednesday July 23, our Home Minister met up with foreign diplomats to 'brief' on the Anwar case. Brief? Do they need briefing? Sounds more like a subtle threat to me. 10 hours ago, the former chief of World Bank, IMF and even the ex-President of Canada released a press statement saying Malaysia should drop the sodomy charges against Anwar. Here's the rest of the report:
'"We have heard with deep concern the charges filed against the honorable Datuk Seri Dr. Anwar Ibrahim," said the statement by former Canadian prime minister Paul Martin, ex-World Bank chief James Wolfensohn, and Michel Camdessus, the former head of the International Monetary Fund. They said the charges were brought "in spite of the fact that similar unsubstantiated charges filed 10 years ago against him were overturned by the Supreme Court."
They therefore hoped that "the government of Malaysia will ... demonstrate, by dropping the charges... an exemplary sense of respect for the rights of the individual which are so important to the international standing of Malaysia."
The three reiterated their "full confidence in his (Anwar's) moral integrity."
I took a quick look at US trade sanctions policy. The US Treasury, which via its Office of Foreign Assets Control ('OFAC') controls and enforces the US foreign policy on countries outside the US considered to be:
- sponsoring/ carrying out terrorist activities
- carrying out narcotics trade
- producing/ procuring weapons of mass destruction.
Amongst the states which are under US sanctions are Libya, Zimbabwe,Syria, Iran, few other African states and Burma. What's Burma famous for? Not really terrorism activities; but as narcotics vendor, junta and Aung San Suu Kyi. US sanctioned because of human rights issues. If Malaysia doesn't watch it, it too will be in line for trade embargo. Remember, Condoleezza said, ' blah... blah... in a spirit of respect for Malaysia..' which means Malaysia is a borderline case- which should be now under current review by the OFAC for sanctions. Human rights is just one matter. Does anyone remember the Badawi-Scomi case which involved the supply of nuclear missile related parts to the Middle East. Yes, one more supporting point for the case. This is a red flag and should prompt the BN to sit up straight.
In summary, I demand :
- that the Ministers should revisit what's being being said to the US relating to Anwar and drop the hardball act on Anwar
- that the PR MPs must address this matter in the context of international trade and economic risk exposure; and pressure the BN to make the immediate repairs
The abolishment of outlets having a turnover below RM3 million to pay service tax will benefit the business as well as the customer.
The advantages I see with this tax abolishment are:
- customers save 5% when patronising these outlets
- small boost for small businesses if customers know which restaurant to go for savings
- for qualified businesses, the saving of administrative effort in collecting tax and paying tax
The drawbacks are of course enforcement of the new ruling- the RMC will have to be on the ground (most probably undercover) to check illegitimate charging of service tax. Customers must also be looking out- whether the restaurant in question appears to be earning above RM3 million a year. RM3 million a year translates into sales of RM250,000 per month, over RM8,000 sales a day- at over 800 bowls of noodles at RM10 per bowl. RM8,0000 sales is a lot for a small shop- so just take notice the next time you are charged service tax.
Crony capitalism will inevitably lead to corrupt practices, where bribery given to government officials are a necessity to sustain the business developments and ties and tax evasion is common. This is known as plutocracy(rule by wealth), where the wealthy have a disproportionate influence on political process in contemporary society.
Does this description remind us of the phrase 'Malaysia,Truly Asia'?
We know that this system has been practices for more than 20 years here, and has been increasingly rampant over that period of time. In my perception, most high-profile wealthy men in Malaysia are somehow or other linked with high-ranking government officials on the pretext of being 'friends'. This therefore truly depicts the rampant culture of crony capitalism in this country.
The question is how will this affect us? Well, let me put it this way. An empty pocket hurts the most. The Asian Economic Crisis in July 1997 according to IMF officials Michel Camdessus and Stanley Fischer; were quick to explain that the afflicted economies had only themselves to blame. Crony capitalism, lack of transparency, accounting procedures not up to international standards, and weak-kneed politicians too quick to spend and too afraid to tax were the problems according to IMF and US Treasury Department officials.
That was in 1997, today 11 years later, we are still afflicted with the same problems. With the world economy taking a nose-dive and inflation-rates at an all-time high, who will be able to bail us out? We need good governance desperately! We need to discard age-old bureaucracy and ancient leaders. Look at the upcoming party elections of the ruling government. They have not changed. The same old people are there, from 20 years ago! Where are the fresh faces?
The methods of choosing a leader are still the same, therefore even if there were potential young people, they would not be able to emerge because of the high level of bureaucracy in the system. Again, this is caused my cronyism. Have we not learned our lessons from the course of history? We must remember that "History repeats itself." "There's nothing new under the sun." "Those who will not learn from history, are bound to repeat it."
Are we going to learn the lessons caused by failed governance and better ourselves for the future?
I'm confused, and devastated at the same time because it all seems overwhelmingly difficult to comprehend, yet I want to find out the truth. What makes a leader good or bad? Is there such a thing as a good or bad leader?
I have only known three leaders in my short life and the paradox seems to be that they are confusing characters.
The first; our fourth prime minister, who now has turned to blogging as well is perceived to be a dictator, ruling with an iron-fist, responsible for crippling the judiciary and wiping out any opposition or threats. This in my mind portrays a power-hungry man, selfish to his own intentions and ignorant to the future consequences. But on the other end of the spectrum, he is the man who brought our country to the attention of the world; building mega-structures and increasing economic growth. He was an iron-man, but we had food on the table. So the fact that he had so much control and power, is that the hallmark of a good leader or of a bad one?
The second, a direct opposite in character of the former, our 5th prime minister is perceived to be weak and has no control over his subordinates, causing them to disregard his wishes. A man with no vision and goal of where the country's direction is heading. He portrays a weak, ignorant man who is thrown into a position of great power, and now does not want to let go. But again, without this man, we would not have the bravery to voice out our discontentment and unhappiness at such a level. Sure he did not rule with the iron-fist of his predecessor, but is this his weakness or strength?
The third, is our de facto opposition leader, who has been through much ordeal over the past 10 yrs. He was flying sky-high when he hit rock bottom. This is the man who has the ability to attract and charm crowds of people, using his incomparable oratory skills to charge the atmosphere, enabling people to believe in his ability to change the country's future. We have not had a proper chance yet to discover his true leadership qualities as the country's leader, and I personally want to believe that everything he says and promises now will be what he does in the future. However, what keeps me apprehensive is that he was once part of this corrupt greedy machinery that seeks to feed on the ignorance of people and exploit the country to the fullest extent. My question would be, "why didn't you do something about it when you were high up there and fight for change then?".
But this seems rather naive, because I see many people who have joined the system with visions and dreams, and cast it all away because the attitude seems to be "if you can't beat em, join em". The key seems to be conform, conform, conform only will you succeed in this system.
So who do we blame? Human nature? Because in a way we have all conformed to the system as well. Do you admit never to have bribed a policeman, or customs officer? Or never used resources and contacts to get what we want? Have you not allowed this system of cronyism and corruption to be an everyday way of life?
But I know why you did it. You did it because food has to be put on the table, children to send to school, mouths to feed etc. etc. You did it to protect yourself and your family. Then are you a bad person for conforming to the corrupt system or a good one merely put in an uncompromising position?
And now, the situation we are in today, the future of this country hanging on a thin thread, what do we do? Almost everyone tells me their generation admits to making a mistake, and it is up to my generation to fix it. This is what I have to say; don't wait for us to fix it because it may be too late, fix it with us. Admit and own up to your mistakes, let it no more be the grey areas of what is right and wrong. We have to uphold honesty, truth and justice, at whatever the cost. Do what is right now.
As long as someone does the right things he deserves to be in power, regardless of who he is. I remember learning from a wise blogger friend I am a Malaysian who told me he believes in what is right, not who is right. Therefore, we must not believe wholly in persons and personalities, but rather we must have a believe in an idea. So, whoever conforms to that idea will be accepted by us, but once they digress, it is time to get rid of them.
This country came a long way in terms of democratic reforms during the last 2 years; more reform if not stunted by the Government’s hardball tactics such as mobilising the police in a provocative and aggressive manner to intervene protests. When we talk about protests, Malaysians have so far protested in a civil minded such as place card demos, peaceful street march, carnival-like gatherings, petitioning and blogging.
A question comes to mind when answering your question- how long can Malaysians be civilly obedient. The average Malaysian today is stretched. He/ she is challenged in meeting income with living expenditure. The thinking Malaysian wage earner also faces the terrible stress of prospective future unemployment. Wage earners and business owners alike know, that the easiest controllable cost component in times of rising prices is labor cost and headcount. Control these components, the downside effect is unemployment.
History shows continuous suppression and physical abuse will push people to rioting and hooliganism. When Lee Kuan Yew was building Singapore in its early years he recognized that physical well being and personal wealth played a key role in a country’s economic growth- the contented worker today works even harder for tomorrow, knowing what his daily toil brings in results for himself and country. But yet, across the causeway, the Malaysian Government deliberately does the opposite to its people, totally ignoring the critical success factors of its neighbor.
The only avenues to fight this cruel administration is via the Parliament and the streets. The question is how long CAN the average stressed out Malaysian remain quiet, not a matter of whether they WANT to keep quiet or not. The only avenue to fight this cruel administration is via the Parliament and the streets. Yes, the rakyat should not keep quiet, but instead should take demos to the next level. Demos should be held at personal residences of Cabinet Ministers for instance. As for the the rest of the points I would not mention them here.
As for the Parliament, some PR MPs like Fong Kui Loon, Nurul Izzah, etc should step up in performance. No simple majority, but the minority is not small in number either- make your voted position count like Wee Choo Keong.
I'm getting really pissed-off with how this country is run, for many years I have tolerated this dictatorship, racism crap. We have done all we can, as citizens. What's next now?
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6.4 million is the number of registered tax payers; 1.14 million is the number who pays taxes; the employed workforce being 10.5 million (Source: 1st quarter 2008- Dept of Statistics Malaysia). I do not have tax payer demographics but taking from the median tax band of 13%, if IRB decides to define this rebate as taxable it may stand to gain about at least RM93 million. This figure could be higher, up to RM171 million depending on taxpayer band. The estimated number of vehicles legible for rebates is estimated to be slightly over 7.05 million (from MAA and JPJ records), giving rise to a possible total pay out of over RM4.4 billion in rebates.
The Penang situation.
And being the first official protest that I've attended, I must say that Malaysians are showing great levels of maturity. The crowd was peaceful, strangers were talking to each other like old friends, and I felt a certain warmth and friendliness towards everyone there. However I heard some talk that there was an attack on a rock band earlier, I can't clarify since I only arrived at about 8.00 pm.
Perhaps the most memorable was the fact that the demographic of protesters was so diverse that it really was a mini Malaysia. From people of all ages, from all walks of life, whether urbanites or laid back country folk, they showed up regardless of race, religion, or economic status. And I was most surprised to see many groups who were probably around my age group, i.e. 18-24 who showed up bearing the colours of red and showing great interest in the plight of the nation. We even had a youth who came all the way from Sarawak proudly bearing his state's flag.
This really was an eye-opener for me and I am glad to be a participant, even if it was just to add to the number of people there, although, the helicopters flying overhead are a bit of a distraction.
Malaysia Insider reports that the Bursa CEO's employment contract renewal may be affected because of the glitch.
Source: The Star, June 3, 2008
Hospital denies issuing statement on Mohd Saiful
The Kuala Lumpur Hospital (KLH) has denied that it issued a statement on the results of the medical examination conducted on Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, 23, who alleged that he was sodomised by PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.