BTN - what to do with it

It seems that after Pakatan Selangor's decision to boycott BTN courses, a long concealed and unaccounted for use of rakyat's money suddenly becomes an attention grabbing hot topic.

“This must end,” he (Najib) told those present, including Muhyiddin, Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin and Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.

The Malaysian Insider understands that all of the Cabinet members who were present at the briefing, arranged by Datuk Seri Idris Jala, nodded in agreement.

As documented elsewhere, the DPM and the education minister claim that it is a programme that instill patriotism.

The CONFUSED education minister said:
“I am perplexed as to why the BTN issue is only being raised now when the courses have existed for some time now. Probably, the opposition leaders have ran out of issues or are attempting to conceal their internal crisis by diverting attention.’’

If BN camp is claiming that when DAP and PAS are bickering over the beer ban issue is a sign of gross unrest in the Pakatan Rkayat coalition, I wonder what does the contradictory statements between the President of UMNO cum Prime Minister of Malaysia and his number two means.

If the education minister is "perplexed", I have a simple solution

  • make the course contents a public document, better still, air footage of the actual course (but please not a staged one but the real deal)
  • just like the road show to explain 1Malaysia concept, conduct courses all over Malaysia open to all members of public who are interested
  • let the public decide whether the programme is good or not
    Judging by the DPM's and Hishammuddin's defence of the programme, and the fact that it does not fall under any Official Secret Acts umbrella, and it would show that Najib's administration is transparent, rakyat-friendly and able to share what it purports to be good for the nation, why not let the tax payers decide?

    Make the BTN officers' name and photos public. They are the agents for the nation's patriotism, unity and in Hishamuddin's words, "mould a progressive nation", they should be hailed as role models and should be made as famous as Siti Nurhaliza.

    After all, there is nothing sinister about BTN programme. Once and for all, we can prove, as per Hishamuddin, Pakatan is running out of issue and picking on the poor poor BTN.

    What say you?

    GST: Najib's justification examined

    Najib: GST Bill to be tabled soon

    NEW YORK, Nov 24 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak said a bill relating to the proposed introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) will be tabled for first reading at the end of the current Dewan Rakyat sitting.

    The Prime Minister said the move was agreed to at the last Cabinet meeting.

    I already blogged briefly about GST here.

    “This will allow the public to give their comments, engage them, and if we find it necessary to fine tune it, we’ll do so,” he told Malaysian journalists covering his working visit to New York yesterday.

    - majority of the Perakians want the DUN to be dissolved and fresh election called, would they be allowed to give their comments, be engages and if necessary, the EC will allow it?

    He stressed that if the government decided to introduce the GST in Malaysia, it would do so “very gently”.

    “It’s not going to be an abrupt introduction,” Najib said, adding that if the GST materialised, the rate would not burden the poor or middle-class Malaysians.

    At the moment, people with salary below RM3,000 per month can be exempted from income tax. Now a poor person in Malaysia should be earning less than RM3,000 and with GST, that person who was not paying income tax would now instead be required to pay GST.

    Now how would "not burden the poor"?

    “And, it would not lead to inflation,” he added.

    He has to explain how he can guarantee that there will be no inflation as a result of GST. Inflation is defined as generally increases in price of goods and services. Now if something that cost RM100 now becomes, says after GST at 5% , RM105, to me as the ultimate payer of GST, there is a price increase.

    One possibility of no price increase is for the price of goods to be reduced somehow, then after the GST of 5%, remains at RM100. The is the point of view for the man in the street.

    As far as I know, after the price of petrol shot up durang Badawi's time, the hawkers raised their prices and the price of wan ton mee and teh tarik etc have remain unchanged even after the petrol price dropped.

    Compliance costs to the business would increase so it is imaginable that in some way, the business community will seek to pass onto the consumers. Compliance costs ranged from software upgrade, training of staff, additional stationery, increased cost of irrecoverable trade debts etc. A business that do not pass on higher cost to its customers would be a rare breed.

    Corruption is not rare in Malaysia. Corruption adds up to the cost of business and would be reflected in the selling price of goods and services so in addition to paying for cost of allt that nonsense, Malaysian consumers will now be taxed on leakages, inefficiency and corruption.

    And how does this not impact the poor, and the not so poor as well?

    The other possibility is that Malaysia’s CPI would be calculated net of GST. And lastly, when the CPI does move upwards, Najib can always bring out a host of other reasons like world economy, commodity prices etc in the controlled main stream press. Najib wins hand down.

    "The Prime Minister pointed out that Malaysia was one of the few countries in the Southeast Asian region that had yet to implement the GST."

    And Malaysia is the only country in SEA that distinguishes the entitlement of its citizens by race and religion. Care to comment on that?

    “Basically, the whole world has introduced the GST,” he said.

    Blimey, our PM runs the country on the basis of what other countries do, NOT what the citizens of this country with our own set of issues need and want. A Wakil Rakyat is suppose to represent the tax payers' voices in Parliament, and not implement things by following the whole world only.

    If Najib still insist on this mode, then please follow the examples of the abolishment of apartheid in South Africa, come New Zealand is rated as the least corrupt nation in the world and why certain European countries can give high quality and free medical care to its citizens.

    While tabling Budget 2010 in October, Najib said the government would take firm measures to strengthen its financial position and recognised that adequate revenue collection was vital to support rising expenditure as well as reduce the nation’s increasing debts.

    Najib has failed to explain what constitute rising expenditure. I strongly recommend that by taking stern action on the AG reports, substantial cost savings can be achieved by firing negligent civil servants who have persistence practice of gross wastage, no more bail outs and open government tenders.

    If I remember correctly, in the budget presentation, Najib mentioned that there would be a cost decrease of 11.2% so is there a consistency issue here? I blogged about this observation as below:

    "No mention of cost controls. Najib mentioned about expenditure would be decreased by 11.2%but base on Jabatan Audit Negara’s report, most agencies have developed a culture to see who can overspend more, budget or no budget. A more effective way is to rigorously impose cost control, opening up government tenders, punishing errant officers reported in the JAN reports. That itself can generate savings."

    GST: Here it comes

    "Only the rich shall be taxed..." Haven't we heard this phrase countless times before from any politician's rostrum. In reality, any wide-based tax of this sort (GST) hits the 'poor' harder than the 'rich'. Anyway, the classification of 'poverty' in Malaysia has been a subject of dispute and unrest due its methodology of classification. But if one really looks at the mechanism of GST, it is to tax those on the poorer income group and those who are not declaring their taxes; and also the regular tax payers. A wide-tax net means whack everyone la.

    Income tax for 2010 is just being proposed for a 1% reduction man. Not enough to offset the 5-10% GST rise in goods and services.

    GST Bill to be tabled by Dec 17
    New Straits Times

    Tax will not burden poor or middle class, says PM Najib.

    THE Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill will be tabled for first reading by the end of the current parliamentary sitting on Dec 17 to stimulate discussion on the tax among Malaysians.

    Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the cabinet, at its meeting last week, agreed on the timing of the tabling of the bill.

    The possibility of the GST being introduced was mentioned at the tabling of the 2010 Budget.

    The GST will allow for the widening of the tax base and increase revenue collection in an era of a lower tax regime.

    The GST will mean a more efficient collection mechanism of getting at those who slipped through the taxation net by taxing some of their spending.

    Currently, Malaysia employs the sales and service taxes for some consumption.

    “(If implemented) the GST would not be a burden to the poor or middle class or lead to inflation,” Najib told Malaysian reporters here on Monday.

    If introduced, the GST would be less than the current sales and service taxes of between five and 10 per cent, he added.

    As part of a more efficient economic management system, it would help narrow the nation’s current budget deficit, something to which the government is committed to.

    Najib said international investors whom he met on Monday saw this as a sign of fiscal responsibility, especially with the planned reduction of the deficit.

    The only countries in the region not employing the GST are Malaysia, Brunei and Myanmar.

    Keluhan dan cadangan seorang ibu Melayu Singapura

    Menurut Naib Menteri Pendidikan Mohd Puad Zarkashi, perbuatan bertutur dalam bahasa Inggeris adalah ganjil dan menjejaskan kebudayaan dan identiti negara. Beliau mahukan pihak swasta bertutur dalam bahasa Malaysia sahaja dan sebarang surat kepadanya yang ditulis dalam bahasa Inggeris akan ditolak dan penulis akan diminta menulis semula dalam Bahasa Malaysia.

    # harap-harap Naib Menteri PENDIDIKAN ini tidak menonton wayang dalam Inggeris seperti “Star Wars”, "Lord of the Rings" dan sebagainya ataupun rancangan-rancangan televisyen (jua harap dia ungkapkannya sebagai “kotak berbayang-bayang”) bermutu di saluran “National Geographic” dan “History Channel”)

    # saya juga berminat mendengar sama ada beliau bercadang menghapuskan pengajaran dan pembelajaran Bahasa Inggeris dalam sistem sekolah dan apakah kesannya terhadap pembekal buku-buku ini (yang mungkin kawan-kawan ahli-ahli politik atau tidak)

    # saya juga berminat mendengar pendapat dan sumbangan beliau dalam usaha menarik pelabur, pelajar, pelancong dan persara asing mengunjungi negara kita.

    Walau macammana pun, berikut adalah sungutan dan cadangan daripada seorang ibu kaum Melayu di Singapura. Sama-sama kita renung siapakah yang lebih munasabah hujahnya.

    Ubahlah sikap pengajaran - Hasleen Bachik (Puan)

    The Straits Times Novemrber 19, 2009

    Saya merujuk kepada laporan semalam “MM Lee mahu pembelajaran Bahasa China dijadikan seronok”. Jika ikhtiar Menteri Pembimbing Lee Kuan Yew termasuk menggunakan Bahasa Inggeris sebagai alat pembantu pembelajaran, maka ini akan banyak membantu para pelajar Bahasa Mandarin dalam sekolah.

    Sebagai seorang pelajar Melayu yang cuba memperlajari Bahasa Mandarin di sekolah dalam tahun 70’an, ejaan dan penghafalan adalah mimpi ngeri saya.

    Memang biasa saya dapat markah sifar kerana gagal menghafal perkataan China. Saya akhirnya mengalah dan menukar balik bahasa pertuturan saya kepada bahasa Melayu.

    Pengalaman saya mempelajari Bahasa Mandarin itu memenuhi kegagalan kerana guru-guru saya dengan tegasnya menolak penggunaan Bahasa Inggeris untuk menolong pelajar mempelajari bahasa ibuandanya.*

    (* nota penterjemah: pelajar-pelajar Puan Hasleen sebut itu adalah budak-budak kaum Cina Singapura)

    Sikap “Bahasa Mandarin sahaja” kini berleluasa di kalangan guru-guru bahasa China yang melarang percubaan menterjemahkan perkataan-perkataan China kepada bahasa Inggeris dalam bilik darjah.

    Sikap ini memang perkara biasa di kalangan guru yang berasal daripada sekolah aliran China yang bertekad menjaga keutuhan bahasa tersebut. Tetapi pengalaman saya menggunakan bahasa Inggeris sebagai alat pembantu pengajaran menunjukkan ia amat berkesan. Tatkala anak perempuan saya, yang kini belajar Bahasa Mandarin atas permintaan ibubapa ipar saya, mulai diajar oleh seorang guru lelaki muda, markahnya berganda daripada 40’an kepada 70’an yang boleh dianggap memuaskan.

    Sebab utama: anak saya jatuh cinta dengan bahasa ini kerana gurunya menterjemahkan perkataan-perkataan China kepada perkataan-perkataan Inggeris dalam bilik darjah. Guru ini membantu murid-murid seperti anak saya memahami dan mempelajari bahasa ini dengan lebih cepat.

    Guru ini mengesahkan pandangan saya terhadap kemajuan anak saya dalam perjumpaan guru dan ibubapa apabila beliau dapat perhatikan kemajuan nan ketara di kalangan muridnuya dengan kaedah ini. Anak perempuan saya yang akan mengambil peperiksaan akhir sekolah rendahnya telah dapat mempertahankan pencapaiannya mendapat markah 70’an atau lebih dalam Bahasa China.

    Mungkin ini bukanlah suatu pencapaian yang besar untuk murid-murid tertentu tetapi bagi suami dan saya, ini suatu pencapaian nan amat membanggakan kerana Bahasa Mandarin bukanlah bahasa pertuturan keluarga kami.

    Akhirnya, hasrat kami adalah anak perempuan kami cintai bahasa ini dan bukanlah sekadar mendapatkan markah yang tinggi sahaja.

    Saya berharap anak saya, yang akan menuntut dalam darjah keempat tahun depan, akan bertuah seperti kakaknya mendapat guru seumpama guru kakaknya dan ini akan memupuk minatnya dalam bahasa ini kerana pemahaman anak saya dapat dijalinkan menerusi kaedah ini. Saya belum berputus asa lagi. Bukan sekarang lagi.

    Malaysia warned on longstanding goal

    By Kevin Brown in Singapore

    Malaysia will remain in a middle-income trap and fail in its longstanding goal of joining the developed world by 2020 unless it can add value to its economy, the World Bank warned on Wednesday.

    In a detailed analysis of Malaysia's economic prospects and policies, the bank said the country had recovered well from the global financial crisis and would grow 4.1 per cent in 2010, after a contraction of 2.3 per cent in 2009.

    The report said the medium-term outlook was also promising, forecasting growth of 5.6 per cent in 2011 and 5.9 per cent in 2012, assuming a sustained global recovery from the crisis.

    But the report warned that Malaysia's growth performance was lagging behind its neighbours because of its continuing inability to decisively generate added value to its economy.

    The report said: The economy seems to be caught in a middle income trap unable to remain competitive as a high-volume, low-cost producer, yet unable to move up the value chain and achieve rapid growth by breaking into fast-growing markets for knowledge and innovation-based products and services.

    The report noted that private investment collapsed after the 1997/98 Asian crisis when Malaysia refused advice from the International Monetary Fund and acted unilaterally to defend its currency and industries.

    It said that Malaysia's large private surplus on the current account suggested that investors found it more attractive to invest overseas than domestically: With private investment now at a fraction of what it used to be, there is a genuine concern that the current low level is an impediment to the goal of becoming a high income economy.

    The report echoes concerns expressed recently by Najib Razak, prime minister, although Mr Najib adopted a significantly more upbeat tone, arguing that economic reforms including an easing of foreign investment rules would effect a transformation of the economy.

    "We were successful in the past in transforming the economy from agriculture to industrial-based. We now have to shift to a new economic model based on innovation, creativity and high-value added activities. Only then, we will be able to remain relevant in a competitive global economy," Mr Najib said.

    The World Bank said that Malaysia must act urgently to increase specialisation in the economy, improve skills levels, make growth more inclusive and strengthen public finances if it was to achieve its goal.

    "Malaysia's fundamental challenge simply put is the need to revitalise the dynamism of its economy," said Philip Schellekens, the lead author of the report.

    Mr Schellekens said in his World Bank blog that competition for export markets and FDI was likely to increase as the global economy recovered, making it all the more necessary for Malaysia to revitalise its economy.

    "Revitalising the dynamism of the economy boils down to, among other things, energising the role of the private sector, building an internally competitive economy (which is different from ensuring external competitiveness), and making sure that along the way no one is left behind," he said.

    Sex and Divorce

    "Did you know that I was a divorce lawyer once?", Margaret confessed without shifting her gaze on the busy street. We were at a sidewalk cafe somewhere (I think) on the Sukhumvit Road area; laptops opened to capitalize on the free wi-fi the cafe offered. It is 10 pm and the street is still bustling with traffic. I had just flown in few hours back before checking into the hotel; and was trying to maintain a steady stream of concentration on the laptop while having coffee. I was tired. I can't say that I enjoyed the coffee nor the e-mail queue nor the depressing Bangkok weather.

    "So why did you changed lines- business no good kah?", I answered. Margaret was now a big-time regional corporate lawyer based in KL. A far throw from what- being a divorce lawyer?!

    "Business was too good in fact," Margaret replied, with a hint of catching my sarcasm. "Too good. Infectious maybe. The pain of divorce got into me." "The last straw came when I was slapped in the face by a woman while trying to get custody of her kid."

    I later found that the divorce business should be indeed good for the law industry- you can check out this study made here and sum up the conclusion somehow. Divorce rate is double digit percentage in Malaysia (I think about 15-20%?) but of course this is quite low compared to the 50% rate in the USA or some parts of Europe.

    Margaret continued, "There are several reasons which lead to divorce- but somehow, it all leads to sex- the lack of it or too much of it." I wasn't sure whether I agreed with my colleague or not, but she definitely threw me off my concentration on the e-mails. "A married woman has to wear a few hats- as mother and as lover to her husband. Over time, a woman may be a great mother to her children but should also not forget how to love her husband as lover."

    I wondered about the direction of the conversation and thought aloud, "Hey Marge, why you suddenly talk like this- are you talking about yourself kah?" But then, we were all a long way from home.

    There was no direct answer from Margaret as smoke wafted from a long puff. I continued pounding on my laptop getting ready a 30 power point slide presentation for the next morning. We are all very busy people aren't we.

    Negeri Sembilan : Sleepy Hollow No More

    Negeri Sembilan has always been a relatively “quiet” or “stable” state. No scandals, no wastage and looked like a happy ship, unlike Kuala Lumpur and Selangor where numerous scandals or dubious arrangements have been discovered, highlighted, reported and until significant pressure from people like Nadeswaran, Terence Fernandez and Lim Kit Siang etc, Malaysians would not have heard of PKFTZ, Mickey Mouse tour by Menteri Besar, Zakaria Istana, Toyo’s property etc.

    Or is there something simmering beneath in Sleepy Hollow?
    Note: 2004 (47.5 mil); 2005 ( 46.95 mil); 2006 (25.37 mil); 2007 (20.32 mil); 2008 (15.60 mil)

    According to LAPORAN KETUA AUDIT NEGARA, PENYATA KEWANGAN KERAJAAN NEGERI DAN PENGURUSAN KEWANGAN JABATAN/AGENSI NEGERI SEMBILAN TAHUN 2008, the state has been running deficit budget for past 5 years consecutively.

    If a government is spending more than it can earn continuously, it must get money from elsewhere so naturally the state government of NS borrowed from the federal government.

    The borrowing as at end of 2008 is RM2 billion, which is about 10 times the annual income which stood at RM260.7 million for 2008. The cost of funding is not cheap. Look at 4.5.4 below the graph.

    “4.5.5 Pada akhir tahun 2008 bayaran balik pinjaman berjumlah RM16.26 juta telah dibuat bagi 23 pinjaman. Bayaran balik pinjaman ini terdiri daripada bayaran balik pokok berjumlah RM2.19 juta dan bayaran balik faedah berjumlah RM14.07 juta.”

    Only 13.5% on the repayment go towards reducing the principal while the rest constitute interest payment. Isn’t it great to be the federal government?

    Ok, interest charged by the federal government may be out of control of the state government. Mitigating consideration is perhaps the state government really did borrow the money and apply it for the benefit of the citizens of NS?

    On page 21 of the report, it is stated that,

    "ii) Analisis terhadap perbelanjaan pembangunan bagi tahun 2008 berbanding tahun
    2007 menunjukkan tujuh maksud perbelanjaan pembangunan yang melibatkan
    empat Jabatan mengalami peningkatan perbelanjaan antara 0.4% hingga 725.6%.
    Manakala sebanyak tujuh maksud perbelanjaan yang melibatkan lima Jabatan
    mengalami penurunan perbelanjaan antara 4.1% hingga 29.9%.

    iii) Semakan Audit mendapati dua maksud perbelanjaan pembangunan yang melibatkan Pejabat Setiausaha Kerajaan Negeri mengalami peningkatan perbelanjaan antara 34.5% hingga 725.6% pada tahun 2008 berbanding tahun 2007. Projek yang terlibat adalah Kerja-kerja Kecil dan Bangunan Kerajaan masing-masing berjumlah RM7.7 juta dan RM23.20 juta. Butir-butir perbelanjaan pembangunan adalah seperti di Jadual 4.23. "

    725.6% cost overrun related to "Pelaksanaan Projek Ubahsuai Bangunan Kerajaan" ...something that the man and woman in the street cannot benefit directly, if at all.

    In at-arms length commercial world, a cost overrun of 50% could mean curtains for some project manager but for the State Secretary of NS, during the GE year of 2008, the renovation of the state government building suffered a budget overrun of 7 times from its planned expenditure. One wonders who were the lucky contractors….
    - update: I need to correct myself. The 725.6% means increase against last year's expenditure and not 7 times over its budget. however, my opinion that money has been diverted from meaningful and rakyat centric purposes to whatever renovation contracts that would not benefit rakyat on a wide spread basis

    Common sense would tell us that when you spend a lot of money on something, one has to cut back spending on another. E.g. buy more clothes, eat less or things like that.

    So on page 21 also, it is stated that

    “iv) Tiga maksud perbelanjaan pembangunan mengalami penurunan perbelanjaan yang ketara iaitu 21.2% hingga 29.9% pada tahun 2008 berbanding tahun 2007. Penurunan ini adalah disebabkan oleh peruntukan bagi maksud perbelanjaan Rancangan Tebatan Banjir Negeri Sembilan yang melibatkan Jabatan Pengairan Dan Saliran dibelanjakan kurang daripada 50%.”

    So actual money allocated to handle the flood issues faced by the rakyat was not spent according to plan. Let’s look at some relevant news reports…..

    Thursday April 17, 2008
    Floods force out 28 families in Temiang (click "Floods" to read the news)

    Sunday April 20, 2008
    Squatters blocking anti-flood plan (Click "squatters" to read the news)

    Sure, blame it on the rakyat. I rest my case.

    According to the graph above, the department that fouled up its budget by 726% got most of the allocation under the 9th Malaysian Plan….ok, what for?

    Lo and behold!

    Item 12 shows the State Secretary Department ran 80 tourism projects…make sense to you?

    If you take Bil 6 – 12, excluding 8, the State Secretary got RM465.4 million (if you include the Pejabat Menteri Besar allocation of RM45 million) to implement 125 projects, an average of RM5.8 million per project. By comparison, RM35.9 million was allocated for 46 agricultural projects, about RM780,00 per project, over 5 years of RMke-9.

    Securing flood supply in NS should be the primary concern of the state government. I remember there was a boom time for the vegetable farmers in Sikamat and also the pig rearers in Bukit Pelanduk. Not only residents of NS gotten fresh and cheaper source of food, the pigs were exported to Singapore to earn valuable Singapore Dollars.

    Just like week, in a NTUC shopping mall at Ang Mo Kiow,...I noticed the frozen pork consumed by Singaporeans are imported from....BRAZIL. ASEAN Trade Block opportunity illustrated.

    As the government is borrowing from the federal government at an exorbitant rate, due care must be given to cash flow management so that the crippling debts can be repaid as soon as possible and we have this gem of a generous state government.

    The 2 charts below showed that more than RM280 million of state fund was lent to Menteri Besar Incorporated and Syarikat Imapro Sdn Bhd and from 2004 till 2008, only repayments made were RM12.35 million and RM10.62 million in 2007/2008.

    The 8.64 million owing by Imapro is more than half of the state deficit for 2008 which was RM15.6 million. Collect that and half of the deficit is wiped out. Who is behind Imapro?

    A blogger wrote this:
    2. Taukeh tanah untuk ternakan babi ialah orang Melayu (Syarikat IMAPRO Sdn. Bhd. milik Bumiputera 100%). Dengan modal RM2.00 ianya mengaut untung sebanyak RM1,718,232.00 (pada 31 Disember 2006). Kadar untung ke atas modal ialah 859,115 kali ganda. Ini adalah untung atas angin

    The Auditor General has this to say about the MBI:
    Penurunan (pelaburan saham negeri) ini antaranya adalah disebabkan oleh Lain-lain Pelaburan berjumlah RM1.82 juta yang merupakan pelaburan oleh Menteri Besar Incoporated telah dikeluarkan daripada Penyata Akaun Memorandum. Pelaburan tersebut diuruskan oleh Menteri Besar Incoporated telah dikeluarkan daripada Penyata Akaun Memorandum secara berasingan. Semua hasil pelaburan yang diperolehi tidak diperakaunkan sebagai hasil Kerajaan Negeri.Kerajaan Negeri juga tidak mempunyai sebarang pegangan saham dalam syarikat milik Menteri Besar Incoporated.”

    In a nutshell, the AG reported that dear Menteri Besar just took away the state money to trade in shares and not accounting its action and results, not even a sen, back to the state government. I wonder which state statute empowers him to do so. I hope there is a provision for that.

    Well, sleepy hollow, I miss thee, for you hold more mystery that I never thought it could be…..

    I am confused

    Pakatan loses suit against Perak State Secretary

    By Clara Chooi
    IPOH, Nov 12 – The High Court here today struck out Pakatan Rakyat Speaker V. Sivakumar’s suit against Perak State Secretary Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Hashim for abuse of power, which was filed ahead of the controversial Sept 2 assembly sitting in a hotel here.

    The case was struck out in the chambers of Judicial Commissioner Tarmizi Abd Rahman today after Sivakumar filed his affidavit in reply to the one filed in response to his suit by Abdul Rahman on Oct 15.

    Lawyer Cheang Lek Choy, who represented Sivakumar, said the suit was “struck out with costs” after he emerged from chambers with Sivakumar and state legal adviser Datuk Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid, who represented Abdul Rahman.

    The Malaysian Insider understands that Tarmizi had said Sivakumar had no locus standi to file the suit, in view of the fact that he was no longer the state assembly’s Speaker, a post with which he had used when he filed his summons in chambers on Sept 1.

    Sivakumar had filed the summons one day before the Sept 2 sitting, seeking an ex-parte injunction against Abdul Rahman. The injunction was to stop Abdul Rahman from “abusing his power” and preventing Pakatan Rakyat representatives from convening the sitting inside the state assembly hall at the State Secretariat.


    I am not a lawyer, let alone a constitutional one. I cannot understand the reason for the verdict.

    Abdul Rahman is on trial and he is being contested for acting "ultra vires" (Utusan Malaysia, please take note. it means "acting beyond one's power", not "to insult) so why can't he be judged on that.

    Instead it appears to a layman like me that Sivakumar is on trial. I am trying to understand the learnt judge's reasoning and put my retarded brain into motion.

    Ok, hypothetically speaking, I have a house that was burglarised and I caught the thief. Since criminal law afford no compensation for me, I take the bugger to civil court and sue him for stealing and selling off my things, hoping to get a compensation.

    Suddenly I lost my house because I did not pay for my housing installments so the court told me off by saying that since I do not own the house anymore. I have no right against the thief who took away my belongings .

    I may be wrong, I could be wrong. Looks like I am wrong, sounds like I am wrong but am I wrong or korek korek korek?

    Anyway, it is not about Pakatan winning the case, it is about how much our judicial system has progressed under Najib since the crises of 1988 till Badawi's appointment of Zaid Ibrahim as law minister but now back to the ever combative Nasri

    It is a KPI of Najib's administration that is transparent to all Malaysians who are interested in having a law abiding, law respecting and civilised nation. This, hopefully, would be a factor that Malaysian voters consider as they weight up the effectiveness of Najib administration.

    2 nice photos

    I have kept these 2 photos I have taken with my handset during Bagan Pinang by-election and I wonder when it would be a good occasion to share with you.

    A cybertrooper came up with this gem in one of the recent posts,

    Agreed. he is exactly like your grandpa thinking. I don't think he is using any mobile phone too, either prepaid or postpaid becasue we need to disclose P&C information.

    Well I do have a handphone and a few lines, mind you. It is not my fault that some grandpas do not use handphones, it is their choice.

    However, let us celebrate the change in the Malaysian political landscape.

    These 2 Chinese aunties came to a ceramah and grabbed the DAP and PAS costume and got their family members to take photos of them. Well, until recently, I never see Chinese votes embrace PAS so readily and enthusiastically.

    This is even more touching. A Terengganu Malay uncle came all the way to Port Dickson and pulled up in front of the DAP centre and enthusiastically greeted everyone and asked for a DAP flag to take home for display.

    I hated to disappoint him and asked the person in charge....DAP being DAP especially DAP NS is always short of funds as they do not abuse state I paid for a DAP flag and a DAP shirt so that the uncle can return to Terengganu with his desired souvenir....

    Yes UMNO won big but judging from the turn out and response at the DAP ceramah that night...I recall the trend in Ijok.

    In cyberworld you do come across idiots who embarrass themselves without knowing it.

    They could be Caucasian racists slamming down on Singaporeans on their Singlish or football fans who slag off each other in expletive laden and intellectually non-existence fashion.

    It is a part of the risk we face when we venture into cyberworld but it is still fine as these idiots are self-finance in their quest unlike in Malaysia, tax payers' money are usually squandered.

    For example, let's hope we get an answer from this:

    "10. Puan Teo Nie Ching [Serdang] minta Perdana Menteri menyatakan bilangan lepasan graduan universiti yang telah diupah oleh Jabatan Hal Ehwal Khas di bawah Kementerian Penerangan sebagai blogger atau "cyber-trooper" prokerajaan sepenuh masa, pendapatan bulanan setiap graduan, tempoh kontrak perkhidmatan dan kos kelengkapan komputer yang ditawarkan untuk setiap graduan."

    Malaysia, Language & Education... and Offshore Outsourcing

    Malaysians are just too focused on race. Government policies are focused on race. The word Bumiputera and Malay is over-emphasized. The Malay language is over-emphasized. Preserve the language in schools we can, but let us also look into the quality of education shall we. Why can't the medium of teaching be made elective. Let the people choose what they want and end the issue. Why can't we kill this problem as soon as possible and focus on improving the quality of education instead. Kebangsaan schools are just horrible in terms of quality. If time were to turn back I would get into a jenis kebangsaan school instead of a kebangsaan school.

    Below: Mongkok, sunrise.

    I am seated at a nice restaurant during dinner with a friend somewhere in Kowloon Bay. Business is good; each table of the 50-table restaurant is occupied. Waiters and waitresses rush to serve. Once a while a waiter with a Peking duck whizzes pass me. At this point in time Hong Kong's unemployment rate is 5.3% (Malaysia- below 5%). Hong Kong's GDP is 5%, compared to Malaysia's negative 4%.  I don’t know what is Malaysia’s ranking but the natural-resource-constrained Hong Kong is the 13th largest exporter in the world. And they just have 7 million people.

    Below: Someone else's Peking Duck

    "You were educated in Malay?" This question from my friend interrupted my thoughts.

    "Yes," I answered. "I'm from Malaysia; naturally I will be educated in Malay with a mix of English. Malay language is mainstream. It's normal."

    Friend replied politely, "True, but China's economy is big and isn't it good to know Chinese too. I think Malaysia failed to consider certain aspects of education and language?" Duh, I did not have an answer to this. I know that, back at my office, all my contracts and industry guidelines are in English. My continuing professional development training is in English. How on earth would I be able to understand the technical journals with merely a good command of Malay or Chinese right.

    In the recent years, I'm not sure whether Mister Education Minister knows this, regional call centres and service centres have been set up in Malaysia. Shell, HSBC, Dell, BASF, BHP Billington, Standard Chartered, IBM (11 centres in Malaysia!), Microsoft, Intel, BMW, Crown, American Express. Did you know that as at this year Malaysia has 600 call centres and hundreds of shared services centres  employing more than 35,000 people. Revenue from shared services was RM5 billion in 2007. This market is growing and what makes Malaysia an attractive hub compared to India, China and the Philippines? Many Malaysians can speak multiple languages while being technically qualified in their respective fields. Because these skills are easily obtainable in Malaysia, it lowers the wage cost. For instance, an English-speaking competent marketing manager in a multi-national company in Vietnam could easily cost employers USD7K per month. It costs much lower in Malaysia for that same level of hiring.

    Somehow I can't find Malaysia's education system gearing up the younger generation for global trade and economic developments in Malaysia. Malaysia is ranked the world's third most attractive avenue for outsource services after China and India. I don't think we have the luxury of time to debate over the use of language in schools and also the change of teaching medium every few years. The facts are in our hands. So, Mister Education Minister and all UMNO Minister goons, think properly before screwing up our entire future. Malaysians need to be strong in multi-lingual skills. Let's just not focus on Malay language shall we.

    NB. Other information on the shared services industry can be found at the MITI website here.

    Government to take action on AG Report

    So Najib's administration will take action eh?

    ".....said there were four types of action which could be taken against civil servants...."

    I have read a lot of writing on the internet that civil servants do not act alone and free from instruction, consent or approval from their political masters. The Secretary in Perak DUN is a prime example and in Selcat enquiry, there were confessions that just prior to 12th GE, civil servants were under pressure to process payments as instructed by the outgoing Selangor State Assemblymen.

    Therefore the above statement should read "...taken against civil servants and those whose instructions the offending civil servants obey on a customary basis..'

    No point taking out the foot solders while the generals go scot free. In the Nuremberg war trial, they hung the generals and prime minister (Tojo, if you ask). For PKFTZ abomination, is Najib's administration going to be consistent and take action as well?

    Taking stern action can have a positive effect but more must be done. The government must not only action on AG's report but must provide an effective and efficient channel for the public to report and action quickly taken. Whistler Blower's Act is a good start and MACC should be independent and reporting to Parliament so that it can focus on relevant investigative work.

    Civil Servants must be paid well and provided with comfortable working environment so that there is less of an incentive to ask for "extras". The "iron rice bowl" must be taken away from them via stern consequences for abuse of power and corruption would make an effective combination of carrot and stick.

    Finally, pass an act to confiscate ill gotten gains of corruption by civil servants and their masters. If this is not done, all the corruption officers would sit quietly in prison and come out to enjoy their ill gotten gains after a vacation.

    The government should consider staff exchange between AG office and Income Tax Board as IRB officers have experience in identifying and investigating people who live beyond their means.

    As a sceptic, I am folding my arms and see if there is any conviction that comes out of this as there is too much sloganeering and no action whatsoever.

    Kesengsaraan itu tidak mengenali bangsa

    Kesengsaraan itu tidak mengenali bangsa
    Semua kaum tak kira agama akan terasa
    Tatkala meluahnya rasa simpati yang dikurniaNya
    Mengapa nak beza-beza lagi antara dia dengan saya?

    Suatu laman yang membuat saya termenung sejenak.

    Saban hari kita didampingi slogan yang sedap didengar tetapi setiap hari semangat kekitaan dan benih-benih silatulrahim yang ditanam telah dibinasakan oleh tindakan serta kata-kata yang biadap, tidak bertamadun dan memang bercanggah dengan semua agama.

    Di sebelah kiri kita nampak orang besar berbelanja besar adakan kempen-kempen yang meriah tetapi cakap tak serupa bikin; di sebelah kanan pula terdapat orang yang benar-benar berbudi tetapi tak payah riuh sekampung kerana setakat berhujah dan berlakun sahaja.


    Laman tersebut tidak dapat dilawat lagi. Mungin Berita Harian Singapura telah menurunkan rencana itu. Ia memaparkan seorang pastor kristian, Father William Khoo bergiat membantu golongan muslim yang miskin di Singapura.

    Untuk laman Berita Harian Singapura, sila lawat alamat ini.

    Najib's maiden budget take 2: GST

    According to his maiden budget speech, Najib mentioned that the study for Goods and Services Tax is in its final stage. GST has wide implications and I hope he can have consult the relevant stakeholders.

    During Badawi’s administration, I attended a GST seminar organized by an Australian consultant and he mentioned that the people in the banking industry was not adequately consulted hence proposed GST implementation was in question. Banking industry itself has very different products from consumer market. The question was answered a few weeks after the seminar.

    In a nut shell, GST works like this:

    Supplier A sold his products to supplier B for RM100 and assuming 3% GST applies, he will bill supplier B RM103.

    Supplier B has a policy to earn 9% on his selling price hence the cost to consumers will be RM110 (RM10 margin on RM110 selling price gives you 9% margin) plus 3% GST i.e. RM3.30 will be added onto the bill, making it RM113.30.

    Supplier A collects RM3 from B and pays to the IRB within a specific period, like 2 months from date of invoice while B would pay IRB RM3.30 and claim back RM3.00. The end result is IRB getting RM3.30, 3% on the ultimate selling price of RM110. Consumers pay the whole RM3.30.

    The above is a very simple illustration. In real life, goods and services pass through many parties before arriving at hands of ultimate consumers.

    The implications could be summarized as follows:

    1) A wider tax collection basis.

    Presently the Malaysian tax structure provide that people earning below RM3,000 a month can be exempted from tax owing to the series of relief and scale tax rates.

    With GST, everybody would be taxed regardless of income level, as long as he or she spends money.

    Proponents of NEP claim that majority of the poor are Malays hence the consequence is that those who previously not been paying tax, might be caught.

    1 of the key function of taxation is to re-distribute income from the rich to the poor to create equity hence application of GST might implicate the poor inadvertently.

    2) Greater compliance cost for Malaysian business.

    Collecting taxes and remitting them to IRB would result in a lot of work for businesses previously not accustomed to such routine. Given the state of less than prefect accounting work and processes of many Malaysian SMIs, retailers and other small businesses, it would be extremely taxing.

    GST also give a lot of problem if businesses have billed customers who later defaulted on their payments. Businesses would have to pay IRB within 2 months but if the customers defaulted and the debt is sitting in the accounts for a year or more.....

    How easy or difficult is it for the business to claim back the GST from government? Some of us might be familiar with the speed of IRB refunds and cashflow is the bloodline of all businesses.

    Businesses might consider increasing their selling price to generate cash buffers as amount of losses arising from bad debts may increase and I need not tell you who might end up bearing it.

    A solution to this is that smaller businesses with turnover below certain threshold are exempted from GST. Then again, this would result in government created unfair competition between businesses of different sizes.

    3) What kind of goods and services should we impose GST?

    Medical services are already expensive. Should we penalize the poor even more by having GST on these items?

    Another key issue is whether medical services should be “exempted” or “zero rated”.

    Exempted means the entire item is exempted from GST from supplier A to B to consumer.

    Zero rated means GST would be collected from supplier B by supplier A by when supplier B bills consumer, it cannot collect GST from consumer.

    As a result, supplier B might be tempted to include 3% GST as his cost and selling price to consumer might end up even higher. The Australian consultant told me the initial GST draft included medical services as zero rated, rather than exempted item luckily it was spotted as one of the key controversies. I have no way to verify the consultant’s claim. (Hell, I even forgotten his name!)

    4) Would there be adequate compensation for tax payers?

    Would we see further lowering of corporate and income taxes and increase in personal relief? The recent trend suggests the government is planning to do so but is the quantum of compensation adequate?

    However, Malaysians are taxed elsewhere whether it is by the IPP, toll concessionaires, privatized and not transparent companies such as Indah Water, Alam Flora etc.

    Their rates are quite high, not open to scrutiny, by extension a government-linked monopoly and people would wonder whether the benefits and cost of these parties can justify shifting from public sector management and ownership.

    I believe moving these services back to local authorities and having local authority election itself would bring down the cost of living and bring up the quality of service.

    GST could result in higher tax revenue but by looking at the annual horror stories by Auditor General, I wonder do we need to collect more tax or manage our expenditure first?