Saturday, October 10, 2009

National Day Speech by PM Lee Hsien Loong - some points worth noting by our leaders

Below is a full text of Lee Hsien Loong's speech on religious tolerance as reported in the Straits Times. He has identified some Christians' intolerant behaviour.

Risks of religious fervour

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke about the four challenges facing Singapore in his National Day Rally speech on Sunday. Here is an edited version.

Aug 18, 2009
"To live peacefully together, we need good sense and tolerance on all sides, and a willingness to give and take. Otherwise, whatever the rules there will be no end of possible causes of friction." PM Lee, on how fragile religious and racial harmony is in Singapore and how crucial it is to be tolerant.

SO WHAT are these risks? Let me just highlight three of them.
Aggressive preaching - proselytisation. You push your own religion on others, you cause nuisance and offence. You have read in the papers recently about a couple who surreptitiously distributed Christian tracts which were offensive of other faiths, not just of non-Christians but even of Catholics. They were charged and sentenced to jail.
But there are less extreme cases too which can cause problems. We hear, from time to time, complaints about groups trying to convert very ill patients in our hospitals, who don't want to be converted, and who don't want to have the private difficult moments in their lives intruded upon.

Intolerance is another problem - not respecting the beliefs of others or not accommodating others who belong to different religions. You think of this one group versus another group, but sometimes it happens within the same family.
Sometimes we have parents from traditional religions whose children have converted. The parents have asked to be buried according to traditional rites and their children stay away from the funeral or the wake. It's very sad. From a traditional point of view, it's the ultimate unfilial act but it does happen occasionally.

Exclusiveness is a third problem - segregating into separate exclusive circles, not integrating with other faiths. That means you mix with your own people. You'll end up as separate communities.

We foresaw these dangers 20 years ago. We passed the Bill, Maintenance of Religious Harmony, in 1989/1990. Before we did that, then PM Lee Kuan Yew and the key ministers met all the religious leaders. We had a closed-door session at MCYS. We spoke candidly. We explained our concerns, why we wanted to move this Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act. The religious leaders spoke up candidly, they gave us their support. We moved with their support. We continue to keep in close touch with them, to meet regularly. I do that personally, exchange views, keep the line warm and the confidence on both sides so that I know you, you know me. If there is a problem, we are not dealing with strangers but with somebody we know and trust.Once or twice, I've had to meet them over specific difficult cases. No publicity, relying on mutual trust and the wisdom of our religious leaders to defuse tensions. I'm very grateful for their wisdom and for their support. Because of this active work behind the scenes, we've not needed to invoke the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act for 20 years. But it's something which is important to us which we must keep for a long time.

Four basic rules
WE can never take our racial and religious harmony for granted. We must observe some basic principles to keep it the way it is.

First, all groups have to exercise tolerance and restraint. Christians cannot expect this to be a Christian society, Muslims cannot expect this to be a Muslim society. Ditto the Buddhists, the Hindus and the other groups. Many faiths share this island. Each has different teachings, different practices. Rules which only apply to one group cannot become laws which are enforced on everyone. So Muslims don't drink alcohol but alcohol is not banned. Ditto gambling, which many religions disapprove of, but gambling is not banned. All have to adopt 'live and let live' as our principle.

Secondly, we have to keep religion separate from politics. Religion in Singapore cannot be the same as religion in America, or religion in an Islamic country. Take Iran, an Islamic country. Nearly everybody is Shia Muslim. Recently, they had a presidential election which was fiercely contested between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi, and the outcome was disputed. Both sides invoked Islam. So Mousavi's supporters had a battle cry - Allahu Akbar (God is Great). In Singapore, if one group invokes religion this way, other groups are bound to say: 'I also need powerful support. We'll also push back invoking our faith.' One side insists: 'I'm doing God's work.' The other side says: 'I'm doing my God's work.' Both sides say: 'I cannot compromise. These are absolute imperatives.' The result will be a clash between different religious groups which will tear us apart. We take this very seriously. The People's Action Party reminds our candidates, don't bring all the friends from your own religious group. Don't mobilise your church or your temple or your mosque to campaign for you. Bring a multi-racial, multi-religious group of supporters. When you are elected, represent the interest of all your constituents, not just your religious group in Parliament. Speak for all your constituents.
Thirdly, the Government has to remain secular. The Government's authority comes from the people. The laws are passed by Parliament which is elected by the people. They don't come from a sacred book. The Government has to be neutral, fair. We are not against religion. We uphold sound moral values. We hold the ring so that all groups can practise their faiths freely without colliding. That's the way Singapore has to be. You may ask: Does this mean that religious groups have no views, cannot have views on national issues? Or that religious individuals cannot participate in politics? Obviously not.

Religious groups are free to propagate their teachings on social and moral issues. They have done so on the IRs, organ transplants, 377A, homosexuality. And obviously many Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists participate in politics. In Parliament, we have people of all faiths. In the Cabinet too. People who have a religion will often have views which are informed by their religious beliefs. It's natural because it's part of you, it's part of your personality. But you must accept that other groups may have different views informed by different beliefs and you have to accept that and respect that. The public debate cannot be on whose religion is right and whose religion is wrong. It has to be on secular, rational considerations of public interest - what makes sense for Singapore.

The final requirement for us to live peacefully together is to maintain our common space that all Singaporeans share. It has to be neutral and secular because that's the only way all of us can feel at home in Singapore and at ease.

Common spaces
LET me explain to you with specific examples.
Sharing meals. We have different food requirements. Muslims need halal food. Hindus don't eat beef. Buddhists sometimes are vegetarian. So if we must serve everybody food which is halal, no beef and vegetarian, I think we will have a problem. We will never eat meals together. So there will be halal food on one side, vegetarian food for those who need it, no beef for those who don't eat beef.

Let's share a meal together, acknowledging that we are not the same. Don't discourage people from interacting. Don't make it difficult for us to be one people.
Our schools are another example of common space where all races and religions interact. Even in mission schools run by religious groups, the Ministry of Education has set clear rules, so students of all faiths will feel comfortable. You might ask: Why not allow mission schools to introduce prayers or Bible studies as compulsory parts of the school activity or as part of school assembly?Why not? Then why not let those who are not Christian, or don't want a Christian environment, go to a government school or go to a Buddhist school? Well, if they do that, we'll have Christians in Christian schools, Buddhists in Buddhist schools, Muslims in schools with only Muslim children and so on. I think that is not good for Singapore. Therefore, we have rules to keep all our schools secular and the religious groups understand and accept this.

For example, St Joseph's Institution is a Catholic brother school but it has many non-Catholic students, including quite a number of Malay students. The Josephian of the Year in 2003 was a Malay student - Salman Mohamed Khair. He told Berita Harian that initially his family was somewhat worried about admitting him to a Catholic school. He himself was afraid because he didn't know what to expect. But he still went because of SJI's good record. He said: 'Now I feel fortunate to be in SJI. Although I was educated in a Catholic environment, religion never became an issue.' Indeed that's how it should work. I know it works because I understand that Malay students in SJI often attend Friday prayers at Baalwie Mosque nearby, still wearing their school uniforms. SJI thinks it's fine, the mosque thinks it's fine, the students think it's fine, and I think it's fine too. That's the way it should be.

Another example of common space - work. The office environment should be one which all groups feel comfortable with. Staff have to be confident that they will get equal treatment even if they belong to a different faith from their managers - especially in government departments, but in the private sector too. I think it can be done because even religious community service organisations often have people who don't belong to that religion working comfortably and happily together. This is one very important aspect of our meritocratic society.

Thus we maintain these principles: exercise tolerance, keep religion separate from politics, keep a secular government, maintain our common space. This is the only way all groups can live in peace and harmony in Singapore.

Aware and responsible church leaders
THIS is the background to the way the Government looked at one recent issue: Aware. We were not concerned about who would control Aware because it's just one of so many NGOs in Singapore. On homosexuality policy or sexuality education in schools, there can be strong differences in view but the Government's position was quite clear. But what worried us was that this was an attempt by a religiously motivated group who shared a strong religious fervour to enter civil space, take over an NGO it disapproved of, and impose their agenda. It was bound to provoke a push back from groups that held the opposite view, which indeed happened vociferously and stridently. The media coverage got caught up and I think the amplifier was turned up a bit high. This was hardly the way to conduct a mature discussion of a sensitive matter where views are deeply divided. But most critically of all, this risked a broader spillover into relations between different religions. I know many Singaporeans were worried about this, including many Christians. They may not have spoken aloud but they raised one eyebrow.Therefore, I'm very grateful for the very responsible stand which was taken by the church leaders. The National Council of Churches of Singapore issued a statement that it didn't support churches getting involved. There was also the statement by the Catholic Archbishop. Had these statements not been made, we would have had a very serious problem. The Government stayed out of this but after the dust had settled, I spoke to the religious leaders, first the Christians and then the religious leaders of all faiths, so that everybody understood where we stood and what our concerns were. So we can continue to work together to strengthen our racial and religious harmony.
Unusually serious subject.

THIS is an unusually serious and heavy subject for a National Day Rally. Normally, you talk about babies, hongbaos, bonuses.

No bonuses tonight but a bonus lecture on a serious subject. We discussed this in Cabinet at length and decided that I should talk about this. I crafted the points carefully, circulated them many times. Different presentations in Mandarin, Malay and English, because different groups have different concerns, but a consistent message so that there's no misunderstanding.
I also invited the religious leaders to come and spend the evening with us tonight. They can help us to help their flocks understand our limitations, to guide them to practise their faiths, taking into account the context of our society. Please teach them accommodation, which is what all faiths teach. I look forward to all the religious groups continuing to do a lot of good work for Singapore for many years to come.

Finally, let me share with you one true story which was published recently in an Indian newspaper, The Asian Age, and picked up by The Straits Times. It was about a young man from Gujarat, a Muslim, who migrated to Singapore after the Hindu-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002.

A train carrying Hindu pilgrims was stopped in Ahmadebad and set on fire. The circumstances were unclear but 50-odd men, women and children burnt to death, trapped in the train. The Hindus rioted. They had no doubt what the cause was. One thousand people died, mostly Muslims because Ahmadebad has a large Muslim community.

So this young Muslim decided to come to Singapore after the riots. We call him Mohammed Sheikh. It's not his real name because he still has family there. The article said: 'During the bloody riots, he watched three of his family members, including his father, getting butchered. His family had to pay for being Muslim.

'Besides losing his family and home, Mohammed lost confidence and faith in the civil society. He didn't want to spend the rest of his life cursing his destiny. He wanted to move on.'
So seven years ago, Mohammed came to Singapore and got a diploma in hospitality management. Now he is working in an eatery and he hopes to open his own business one day. He told the interviewer, had he stayed in Gujarat, 'I would have been hating all Hindus and baying for their blood, perhaps.'
Now 'he loves it when his children bring home Hindu friends and share snacks'. He told the interviewer proudly, 'My children have Christian, Buddhist, Hindu friends.'

He even hopes to bring his mother to Singapore so she can see for herself that people of different races, different faiths can be friends. The interviewer asked him what Muslim sect he belonged to and which mosque he went to in India. He said: 'I don't want to get into all that. Now I am just a Singaporean. And I am proud of it.'

This story reminds us that while we must not neglect to strengthen our harmonious society, we are in a good position.

So let us rejoice in our harmony but let us never forget what being a Singaporean means. It's not just tolerating other groups but opening our hearts to all our fellow citizens.

IF WE stay cohesive, then we can overcome our economic challenges and continue to grow. This is how we've transformed Singapore over the last half century - solving problems together, growing together, improving our lives. From the Singapore River to Marina Bay, we've totally transformed Singapore over the last half century. 1959 was a moment of great change but nobody at the Padang in June 1959 imagined the change in today's Singapore. We will continue to improve our lives, provided we work together and remain a harmonious and a cohesive society so that in another 50 years, we would have built another Singapore, which is equally unimaginable today.

The key is to stay united through rain or shine.

Geronimo's Take : Two of our UMNO leaders [maybe more], i.e. Najib and Rafidah Aziz came from missionary schools such as St John's Institution and Bukit Nanas Convent respectively. What have they learned during those formative years from the Brothers and the nuns? One thing for sure, these schools did not get them to convert to Catholicsm and secondly, they did not teach them to become racists. The good values that they have inculcated during this time should in fact be passed on to the other leaders in UMNO.

As the saying goes, "A leopard can never change its spots"

Take BN candidate Tan Sri Isa Samad's campaign trail. He piggybacks incessantly on government functions as part of his campaign platform.

For example, on 4 Oct 2009, he attended a function at Politeknik Port Dickson and delivered a campaign speech. The event was organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry's entrepreneur funding body, Tekun.

The minister was there, as well as the Negeri Sembilan menteri besar. But when journalists asked Isa if his appearance at the function was an abuse of power and an election offence, he said no. "I am actually part of the agricultural development council for the Teluk Kemang parliamentary constituency, so I have a role to play here, too," he explained calmly.

PR banner "bringing up" Isa's history of corruption — "wo ai ni" translates as "I love you" in Mandarin

Does this explanation even hold water? Isn't it the point that election campaigns should never abuse government amenities and public funds? And Isa's dishonesty does not stop here. When the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) brings up his history of corruption and negligence as menteri besar, he throws up his favourite red herring. "Ask them to look at Kelantan first and say whether Kelantan is more developed than Negeri Sembilan," he says.

This is another non-answer, because never at any point is he actually being transparent about responding to allegations of negligence and corruption. Instead, he diverts attention away from himself by pointing fingers at and making fun of his political opponent.

[Source : The NutGraph]

Friday, October 9, 2009

MCA, Gerakan, MIC, PPP, etc, have you seen the writing on the wall?

When I came across the heading "What is wrong with the BN component parties?" in The Malaysian Insider, one word popped up in my mind instantly, "PLENTY!" After the 12GE, all the BN component parties must have been left in such disbelief, that for months, they probably ended up not knowing whether they were coming or going. As soon as the shock and awe wore off, finger-pointing became an art form and most of the time, it was directed at one party responsible for the mess they are in today - UMNO. There were some who even found their long lost courage to stand up to UMNO by voicing their discontent. So where do the non-UMNO component plan to go from here? For some, it's business as usual and for the other some, no where in particular. Then just like an aftershock of an earthquake, the leadership confidence of the various parties were brought into focus which led to infighting. UMNO being the taiko should have conducted a post-mortem with the other BN parties to understand their losses and make plans to change for the better. But, no, they have to stage coups, fabricating CBT cases against PR leaders and in the process, one opposition leader has to pay with his life. Tragic isn't it? While UMNO was busy embarking on their devious mission, the PR state governments especially in Penang, Perak and Selangor were busy looking into their service chain to benefit the rakyat.

Latest reports suggest that Umno is worried that the weak link in BN is the component parties. In particular, Umno is worried that parties like MIC and MCA cannot win any non-Malay votes, and these parties will win on Umno votes. If these reports are true, it will mark a major turning point in Malaysian politics.

One of the unspoken rules of BN politics is that a certain number of “safe seats”, i.e. Malay majority, are allocated to key leaders in MIC, Gerakan and MCA to ensure that there will always be “Chinese” and “Indian” leaders in government. That is the reason why DAP often challenges key leaders of MCA to stand in 90-plus per cent Chinese seats to show who really represents the Chinese voters. In other words, Umno provides the basic votes for these key leaders to get elected.

One could look at Umno’s strategy in two ways. The benign way is to see it as Umno showing its commitment to multi-racialism by allowing some safe Malay seats to go to non-Malays. The other way of looking at it is to see it as Umno guaranteeing a façade of a multi-racial government by claiming that it will always have minorities represented in the government.

This strategy worked as long as the component parties can get between 30 and 50 per cent of their ethnic vote. They do not need a majority since they can combine it with the Malay vote. However, this strategy fell apart in the 2008 general election as the component parties struggled to even get 20 per cent of the ethnic vote. It is almost certain that MCA and Gerakan cannot even get 20 per cent of the Chinese vote, while MIC cannot get more than 30 per cent of the Indian vote. This problem would not be serious if Umno thinks the political environment will change by the 13th GE.

Unfortunately there is every indication that things will get worse for MCA, Gerakan and MIC. One can imagine MCA getting 10-15 per cent of the Chinese vote while MIC will end up with less than 10 per cent of the Indian vote.

In such circumstances, Umno will be doing the right thing by taking back these “loan” seats from the MCA, Gerakan and MIC. There is no point in helping a dying party.

The question then is what are Umno’s options? The first thing to bear in mind is that the collapse of the vote for the component parties is largely due to Umno’s own doing. Its ideology and rhetoric before and after 2008 GE confirmed that the Malay Agenda is the only game in Umno. Voters know that under this scenario, there is no point in even voting for the component parties since they will be totally marginalised even if they win. The logical vote will go to the opposition who are in the midst of trying to create a fairer coalition. The second thing to bear in mind is that Umno holds all the cards. MCA, Gerakan and MIC do not hold any cards — in fact they are not even invited to play. You thus have a strange situation like a rat running around in a maze where there is no exit. The game goes like this:

Umno to MIC, MCA and Gerakan: You must work harder to win back the Chinese and Indian votes.

MIC, MCA and Gerakan to Umno: We can only win back the non-Malay votes if you genuinely share power with us and give the non-Malay a place in the Malaysian sun. We feel marginalised.

Umno to MIC, MCA and Gerakan: You already have a place in the Malaysian sun. You are just not doing a good job in explaining the situation to the non-Malay community. You are not marginalised since we appoint you ministers and even loan you some Malay seats. We have 1 Malaysia.

MIC, MCA and Gerakan to Umno: If 1 Malaysia is genuine, then drop the Malay Agenda, NEP and go for meritocracy.

Umno to MIC, MCA and Gerakan: The Malay Agenda is the national agenda. Period. If the Malays are unhappy, there will be political instability. Therefore the Malay Agenda promotes political stability. There is nothing wrong with the NEP, there are still more Chinese and Indian millionaires than Malay millionaires. You have to make the Chinese and Indian community understand and get them to be grateful for a peaceful environment created by BN.

In other words, as long as Umno thinks there is nothing wrong with the current set-up, the component parties will get weaker and weaker.

Since the component parties have no real input into the policy process, they are left with only one option to gain some political legitimacy and “save face”.

This option is to set up “service centres” to solve the day-to-day problems of the working class. They will do anything but make government policies. They will get involved in hawker licence issues, rubbish collection issues, runaways, dirty drains, cannot get Telekom phone lines, etc, you name it, they will do it. But if you ask them to change government policy, they will hide under the desk and pretend you are not there.

Thus the dilemma is simple; since they have no power they cannot bring about reforms and change in government. All they can do is talk about reforms and change. Real reforms and change can only take place if Umno takes the lead, and on Umno’s terms. They have to work within the parameters established by Umno. Umno knows this and all the BN component parties know this. That’s the bottom line.

[Source: The Malaysian Insider. The passage in brown are my comments. Geronimo]

Thursday, October 8, 2009

UMNO has started it's move - into the army camps

[Photo from The Malaysian Insider]

You simply have to read this :

"As I was writing this posting, I received a call from Port Dickson to confirm that the people who attend the recent function where PM Najib had announce the renaming of Port Dickson as the Army Town had received an envelope containing cash worth RM300. How fortunate are these people to be receiving such largesse from our generous PM, and if only I knew, I wouldn't mind lining up among the mass to receive the cash that is more than sufficient to pay off my petrol expenses."....Brigadier General (Rtd) Datuk Muhammad Arshad Raji wrote.

For the rest of the posting, read more HERE and HERE

Another Hindu temple almost demolished

Whenever I read such news these days, I am really left bewildered at UMNO's antics. On one hand, they want the Indian votes (very badly I must say) and on their hand, they just go demolition crazy whenever they see a Hindu temple around, albeit it being illegally built. By almost doing what they did, the opposition just couldn't help but to add one more bullet to their arsenal in the Bagan Pinang by-election. All this talk about sincerely helping the Indians is nothing but a hogwash and I am wondering how many Indians still fall for this type of sandiwara come Sunday. Here is one incident I picked up from The Malaysian Insider.

Umno opposition to the relocation of another Hindu temple in Jenjarom, Selangor, which was scheduled to be demolished today, is already being exploited by PAS in the on-going Bagan Pinang by-election.

The move to demolish the 130-year-old Sri Maha Mariamman temple was aborted only after a meeting between the temple committee, the developer KLIA Holdings and Kuala Langat police.

Former Hindu Sangam president Datuk A. Vaithilingam said the attempt to demolish the temple by the federal government-linked company, eight days before Deepavali, was history repeating itself.

He pointed out that in 2007, former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Khir Toyo issued a similar order for a temple to be demolished in Kampung Jaya, five days before Deepavali.

The demolition became the catalyst for Indian discontent against Barisan National (BN) and was among the factors which resulted in the March 8 political tsunami last year when the ruling coalition lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament for the first time.

The temple in Jenjarom was once part of the Lunderstand Estate but over the years the land had been sold and it is now owned by KLIA Holdings.

According to Vaithilingam, an alternative site in Taman Kota, about 1.5km from the present site, was earmarked by the previous BN state government to relocate the temple to in 2007.

However, he said local Umno politicians objected to the relocation and workers who were preparing the infrastructure for the site were “chased away” on Aug 23.

“The new site is in a multiracial town. Why must Umno object just because the state is now under Pakatan Rakyat.”

State executive councillor Dr Xavier Jayakumar confirmed yesterday that local Umno chieftains had been standing in the way of the relocation and had held a demonstration at the proposed site.

He said although KLIA Holdings has obtained a court order to demolish the temple, the state government had been trying to prevent it.

According to him there was an agreement that no demolition would take place until an alternative site is found.

“I don’t understand why the company is in such a hurry.”

Dr Xavier said he had instructed the state legal advisor to contact lawyers representing KLIA Holdings to advise it against the demolition.

The Kuala Langat district officer has also been instructed to issue a stop work order on all development projects in the area until the issue is resolved.

Meanwhile, Sri Maha Mariamman temple secretary M. Thayalan told The Malaysian Insider yesterday it had lodged a police report after learning on Monday that the temple would be demolished today.

"The police called us for a meeting with the developer, and said they would not allow the demolition because it was too close to Deepavali," said Thayalan.

He said the police also told the developer to resolve the issue of relocation before the temple is demolished.

“We are grateful to the police.”

When contacted, an executive with KLIA Holdings who attended the meeting with the police and temple committee confirmed that the company had shelved its plan to demolish the temple for the time being.

Meanwhile, during campaigning in Bagan Pinang yesterday, PAS MP Khalid Samad raised the issue of the recent Umno-orchestrated cow-head protest against the Hindu temple relocation in Section 23 Shah Alam as well as the relocation of the temple in Jenjarom.

Geronimo's Take : And where is that fella Thanenthiran when he should be in front of a tractor to prevent the demolition instead of busily apple-polishing Jibby?

Malays hate open tenders? Hmmmm ....

Tulang Besi wrote in his blog : I met an old friend and he use to get contracts from the old Penang government. He has a tendency towards UMNO. He began complaining about the DAP administration, that DAP is discriminating against Malays, disrespecting Islam by allowing the Ghost Festival procession to be held next to the State Masjid and many more. He also says that the DAP government is “kurang ajar” to Malays and the Islamic condition in Penang.

Then I asked him about contracts. How is the contract situation in Penang. He says that contracts are harder to get now because all contracts are subject to open tender. So, then I told him, the core of his hate towards DAP stems from DAP’s open tender policy. That, if DAP were to start awarding his company directly like during the UMNO days, he would turn into a staunch DAP supporter overnight?

He kept quiet. There was a dead silence for a few seconds. Then, I continued saying that Malays are always looking for easy out. I told him that the DAP open policy is to ensure that future generations of Malays in Penang will have the opportunity to bid for contracts rather than inheriting a bangkrupt and dilapidated State.

Direct Awards are expensive, costing the state millions unnecessarily and encouraging unproductive Malays to make easy money without creating a multiplying effect on the economy. With open tender, the start of the policy will be difficult but in time it will create a lot of productive Malay entrepreneur which in turn will create more economic opportunities for Malays in general. In the long run, more Malays benefit from the Open Tender policy of DAP.

And I summed up by saying UMNO should stop making stupid issues against the DAP and come clean with the fact that their rank and files (which are mostly contractors) HATES the Open Tender policy of DAP to the guts. All that they are bringing up against DAP Penang administration are just smoke screen to hide the fact that they hate the Open Tender policy to their guts.

And, UMNO contractors are suffering right now because they were never efficient and productive all this while and they survive and thrived by bleeding the Penang state dry with their direct awards contracts.

I told my friend that he should stop yapping and start looking for ways to improve his efficiency and productivity. That will be a better service to the Malays as compared to complaining about things which is unfounded and stupid. That is IF HE REALLY CARES ABOUT THE MALAYS, and not himself more.

Geronimo's Take : During one of my business trips to Penang, there was this Malay taxi driver who chatted away with me about how excited his uncle was when he received news he was successful in a tender bid to install lighting system along the bridge which was worth ringgit half a mil. He went on to say that if it has been the BN government, his uncle would have just kept on dreaming about obtaining any job from the state government. He added that even if a Malay was to get a job, it would be on a sub-con basis which would result in his income being far less as a big chunk of payout has to be made to the A Class contractors. This was the second happy story I heard ever since PR took over the state. The first one was also told to me by another Malay taxi driver whose relative was successful in a tender bid concerning waste disposal.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It's Cliff Richard and The Shadows all over again!

This is certainly great news if you are a fan of Cliff Richard and The Shadows. After more than 30 years, Cliff, Hank, Bruce and Brian are back again, this time to record a new studio album entitled "Reunited". If memory serves me right, the last time Cliff performed with The Shadows was at the London Palladium (or was it the Albert Hall) at a re-union concert in 1979. After that, Cliff continued with his solo career while The Shadows went dormant as a result of Hank's change of residence to Perth, Australia. However, they did get back once in a while to perform in the UK, including their last concert as a group in 2004. The new album consists of 22 tracks (cost me RM40) with the inclusion of three brand new tracks, all backed by The Shadows just like the good old days. Even listening to the album brings back that nostalgic feeling of the 60s when both Cliff and The Shads rode high on the charts. Anyway, welcome back, boys. We miss you.

The album was recorded in January this year in conjunction with their 50th anniversary performing as a group. Despite the fact that all the tracks were given contemporary treatment, they kind of appeared 'stiff' compared with today's pop music accompanied by strings, keyboard and wind instruments. I guess Cliff and the boys wanted the songs to remain in the sixties mode to create that nostalgic feeling. The instrumentation by The Shads remain almost the same except with some variations in some of the pieces, and of course, not forgetting Cliff's now aging voice (which didn't sound too bad at all, actually).

Even though all of them have passed the mid-60 mark, you can never keep a good band down.

Tracks include:
1. I could easily fall (in love with you)
2. The Young Ones
3. Move it.
4. Living doll
5. Bachelor Boy
6. Nine times out of ten
7. C'mon everybody (new)
8. Travellin' light
9. It'll be me
10. In the country
11. On the beach
12. The next time
13. Please don't tease
14. Sea cruise (new)
15. Willie and the hand jive
16. Summer Holiday
17. Do you wanna dance
18. Don't talk to him
19. Time drags by
20. Gee whizz its you
21. Lucky lips
22. Singing the blues (new)

Even though you may already have the above (vinyl, cassettes or CD), there is nothing like adding this album to complete your collection.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The way China and Malaysia treat people found guilty of corruption

While China is extremely serious in the way they mete out punishments for those found guilty of corruption, ours is nothing but a big fat joke. China will not only not hesitate to execute the offender by a firing squad, they will even send a bill to the family for the bullets used. In Malaysia, we are rewarded for being incompetent and corrupt. What a wonderful country this must be. Remember that guy who screwed up our FOREX transaction a few years ago worth billions of ringgit but later to become Finance Minister II? Wow, what a way to go in developing one's career path. Now we have an ex-MB who was found guilty for corruption by his very own party, but is now eligible to stand for a by-election as his offence is only a "technical matter". so said the prime minister. So in actuality, morons, buffoons, idiots and nimcompoops can become leaders of the country, if that is the message the UMNO want us to believe. Very sad, indeed! [Please click the following images to enlarge]

What "technical matter"? Corruption is corruption no matter what.

Wah, so quick, Najib came to the defence of Isa, that his corruption case was one of a "technical matter". Hello, friend, technical or otherwise, corruption is still corruption. Similarly, one cannot ruled Kugan's case as one of "causing grievous hurt" when the charge should be premeditated murder. It is as simple as that because it resulted in the death of Kugan, you know like no longer breathing, lifeless. Now let's see what Uncle Lim has to say about the "technical matter" of Isa.

The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s defence of Tan Sri Mohd Isa Ismail’s corruption offence as only a “technical matter” is a mega-tonne explosion demolishing one of the six National Key Result Areas (NKRAs) he announced on his Hundred Day as Prime Minister – “fighting corruption”.

Responding to the unabated criticisms of the choice of Isa as Umno/Barisan Nasional candidate for Bagan Pinang by-election, Najib told Malaysian students in Paris that Isa was chosen based on his capability and popularity, and that Isa’s offence was only a technical matter within UMNO and did not involve the judiciary of the country.

Najib said the question is whether Isa deserved a second chance or not, pointing out that in our system, even a criminal gets a second chance and can contest the post after serving his or her punishment.

Najib’s argument and logic are full of holes and do not stand up to scrutiny. They merely expose the hollowness and hypocrisy of the Najib administration in declaring “fighting corruption” as one of the six NKRA priority areas for constant assessment of “key performance indicators”.

Nobody would begrudge Isa being given a second chance if he had been fully punished for his offence of corruption, but this is not the case.

There can be no dispute by anyone that money politics whether in Umno or any other political party is pure corruption as has been publicly admitted by the former de facto Minister Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim and the current Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Chief Commissioner, Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan.

There are two questions at issue:

• firstly why Isa had not been charged in court for the corruption offence for which he had been suspended for three years as Umno member; and

• secondly, why the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission continue to close their eyes to the corruption offence committed by Isa as there is no statute of limitation for corruption prosecution and whether a policy decision had been taken to grant immunity to Isa from any corruption prosecution to allow him to contest as a candidate in the Bagan Pinang by-election.

In these circumstances, Najib had been wrongly advised in claiming that Isa had been punished for his offence and had paid for his deeds – when Isa had not even been charged in the court of law for his corruption offence.

If this is not an issue that will have an impact on UMNO's chance of retaining the seat, then why are the Chinese papers issued with orders not to report on Isa's suspension? It was learned that only Nanyang Siang Pau carried the news. Maybe 20 years ago, UMNO could easily win hands down but today, they face the stark reality of being rejected once again in another by-election, and nobody in the UMNO camp likes that sinking feeling if it does happen again. For once, instead of resorting to such unethical methods of winning votes, why can't they just humble themselves by apologising for their past misdeeds, be fair to all races and stop all those religious bigotries, and maybe, just maybe, the people will start voting for you again.

Promises, promises, promies - BN/UMNO

I believe I let the message on the billboard speaks for itself .....

[click on picture to enlarge. Photo courtesy of Malaysian Indians]