Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Namewee



Wee Meng Chee or Namewee's latest video should rightly offend all Malaysians who profess to be against racism. As I told the press yesterday, I believe this time, Namewee's insult was too blatant for anyone to ignore. He cannot continually be given a pass, and this latest stunt suggests he did not mean his apology to all Malaysians over the infamous "Negarakuku" video in 2007.

In that apology, Namewee also said, "As a Malaysian, I understand the sensitivities of each ethnic group and religion in the country" and that he learnt a “valuable lesson” on national unity and ethnic relations. Personally, I accepted the apology and wanted to draw a line under the whole incident. I met and acted with him in the short film “Meter”; I wanted to believe he was merely a naïve young man who meant no harm and that he had learnt from an honest mistake. After viewing his latest video, I no longer believe either of this to be true.

In that video aimed at the school principal Siti Inshah's alleged speech which contained insulting remarks about ethnic Chinese and Indians, Namewee bombarded viewers with vulgar, sexually suggestive lyrics and imagery unbecoming of any decent and respectful person. But that is the least of my concerns.

In the 'song', which begins with him colourfully expressing his disdain for racists, Namewee exposes himself as the racist when he says "You tak baca? Siapa buat Malaysia kaya?", the implication being that the Chinese are the reason for Malaysia’s prosperity and as such Malays like Siti Inshah have no business asking the Chinese to 'return' to China. The same message could have easily been conveyed by stating that no one should be telling anyone else to 'return' because Malaysia belongs to all its citizens without suggesting that a particular ethnic group has contributed more or less.

Now, my position on the Siti Inshah matter is crystal clear. If she did utter the words as claimed, she should be severely punished. But let there be no doubt, Namewee's insinuation that the Chinese are solely responsible for this country’s growth is just as blatantly offensive. Neither is it a question of Malays being too sensitive. Hurt and anger are to be expected when one community is essentially told they play a minimal role in this country's progress.

While this controversy is obviously racial in nature, the reaction to it does not have to be. Just as Namewee's video was the wrong response to the Siti Inshah issue, somewhere out there someone is saying that all Chinese should be eternally grateful to the Malays for granting them citizenship. He or she would be mistaken of course, but the point is we cannot allow disempathy to feed on itself. We cannot let this vicious cycle go on in perpetuity. We cannot play the game of the extremists and the racists on both sides of the spectrum if we are to forge a better path than what they offer.

As such, let this episode be not merely about Namewee, but also symptomatic of the challenge for moderate Malaysians, many of whom I have come to befriend in social media circles. The challenge I speak of is nothing more elaborate than that of consistency transcending racial or political affiliations. I am utterly against extremism, disempathy, insensitivity and racism of any kind - I have spoken out against the likes of Perkasa, Al-Islam magazine and Siti Inshah, often at great political risk. And today I am speaking out against Namewee, not because of his race, religion or even the probability that he will not vote Barisan Nasional. But because he was explicitly insulting. With consistency comes credibility, I have learnt that. And if you, too, call yourself a moderate Malaysian, this is your acid test.

Segera laksanakan gaji minimum


(Berikut adalah wawancara bersama Khairy Jamaluddin berhubung isu gaji minimum oleh Utusan Malaysia yang telah disiarkan pada hari ini Rabu, 1 September 2010.)


UTUSAN: Kenapa penetapan gaji minima dilihat begitu mendesak ketika ini?

KHAIRY: Isu ini berkait rapat serta langsung dengan kebajikan rakyat keseluruhan. Bagi Pemuda UMNO juga, isu gaji minima adalah satu isu nasional yang begitu relevan kepada generasi muda kerana mereka mewakili hampir dua per tiga daripada golongan yang bekerja. Dalam desakan ini, kalau kita lihat kepada pola kenaikan dan tahap gaji pekerja tempatan, ia berada pada paras yang rendah. Berdasarkan kajian Bank Dunia, purata kenaikan kadar gaji tahunan bagi sektor domestik dan eksport dari 1994 hingga 2007 hanyalah sekitar 2.6 peratus dan 2.8 peratus sahaja berbanding kadar purata dunia daripada laporan Pejabat Buruh Antarabangsa iaitu pada 3.2 peratus.

Ini bermakna dalam tempoh itu kenaikan gaji pekerja di Malaysia bukan sahaja amat lembab, malah ia juga lebih rendah dari purata antarabangsa. Bahkan, kadar gaji tersebut juga lebih rendah daripada peningkatan produktiviti pekerja sekitar 2.9 peratus bagi tempoh yang sama. Tambahan kepada kenaikan gaji yang amat lembab ini adalah kenaikan harga barang yang meningkat. Jika kita lihat pada kadar kenaikan inflasi rasmi, ia sebenarnya tidak menggambarkan keadaan sebenar di peringkat rakyat kebanyakan. Kalau kita tengok kepada kenaikan harga barang-barang perlu pula ia banyak didorong oleh kenaikan secara mendadak.

Namun, dalam membuat perbandingan dengan kadar inflasi yang rasmi, kita masih melihat jurang yang besar antara peningkatan kos sara hidup dengan kadar gaji. Kajian UNICEF menunjukkan bahawa purata kadar inflasi negara dari 1990 hingga 2008 adalah pada tahap empat peratus berbanding kadar kenaikan gaji sekitar 2.6 dan 2.8 peratus sahaja. Apabila kenaikan kadar gaji tidak setaraf dengan inflasi, maka kita akan melihat kuasa membeli pekerja Malaysia dan rakyat jatuh. Apatah lagi maklum balas dan hasil kaji selidik yang dijalankan oleh Pemuda UMNO mendapati, masih ada operator kilang di negara ini yang ditawarkan gaji RM460.

Ia jauh lebih rendah daripada Pendapatan Garis Kemiskinan (PGK) RM720 sebulan bagi Semenanjung Malaysia. Kita berdepan dengan situasi sebegini yang bukan sahaja berlaku di sektor perkilangan tetapi juga sektor tekstil, perladangan dan banyak sektor lain. Justeru kesimpulannya amalan mengharapkan kuasa pasaran bagi menentukan gaji telah gagal. Isu ini juga bukan hanya berkait dengan ekonomi, tetapi isu moral yang mana kerajaan tidak boleh lagi membiarkan tahap gaji yang begitu rendah.

Apabila kita bercakap tentang pekerja tempatan di sektor perkilangan, rata-rata majoritinya adalah anak-anak muda Melayu. Apa yang dibimbangkan ialah mereka akan meragui dasar kerajaan bagi membantu orang Melayu apabila gaji mereka sendiri berada di tahap yang begitu rendah. Jadi saya melihat perjuangan untuk gaji minimum ini adalah perjuangan untuk moral bagi memastikan tiada rakyat dan pekerja Malaysia yang hidup di dalam kemiskinan. Bukan kerana tiada pekerjaan tetapi kerana gaji mereka berada di bawah paras kemiskinan.

Bagaimana dari sudut kemampuan kerajaan lebih-lebih lagi dalam tempoh ekonomi sukar seperti ketika ini?

Perkara ini tidak melibatkan perbelanjaan kerajaan kerana di dalam penetapan gaji minimum, bukan kerajaan yang perlu bayar atau menampung perbezaan antara gaji minimum dan gaji yang ditawarkan. Tetapi ini menyentuh mengenai persetujuan kerajaan bagi menimbang cadangan memperkenalkan gaji minimum dengan meminda Akta Pekerjaan 1955 bagi tujuan itu. Saya harap ia dapat dilaksanakan pada tahun ini juga memandangkan Model Baru Ekonomi (MBE) akan diperkenalkan pada Oktober ini.

Sekiranya kita serius dengan gaji minimum ini, kita boleh pinda Akta Pekerjaan 1955 dan juga perundangan berkaitan pada sesi Parlimen di penghujung tahun nanti. Selaku seorang Ahli Parlimen, saya sedia sokong dan bantu agar perkara ini dapat dilaksanakan oleh Kerajaan. Isu tuntutan gaji minima ini telah pun dicetuskan oleh MTUC sejak sekian lama dengan cadangan gaji minima RM900 sebulan dan dicampur dengan elaun sara hidup sebanyak RM300, menjadikannya RM1,200. Jika ia dijadikan perundangan sebagai gaji minima maka semua syarikat perlu mematuhinya.

Kita perlu maklum bahawa 90 peratus daripada negara-negara di dunia mempunyai gaji minima. Sedangkan Malaysia hanya mempunyai sistem gaji minima berdasarkan sektor seperti mana peruntukan dan proses yang dinyatakan oleh Akta Majlis Penetapan Gaji 1947. Tetapi malangnya ia tidak meluas dan melibatkan semua sektor di samping pelbagai prosedur dan birokrasi yang perlu dilalui. Malah, undang-undang ini juga sudah lapuk dan tidak dikemaskini sejak sekian lama. Biarpun ada sektor yang membuat ketetapan gaji berdasarkan Perjanjian Kolektif atau Collective Agreement (CA) di antara pihak kesatuan sekerja dan majikan, namun sekali lagi tidak banyak sektor mahupun syarikat-syarikat di sektor berkenaan yang terlibat kerana tidak semuanya mempunyai kesatuan sekerja.

Tidakkah ini membebankan industri kecil dan sederhana (IKS) yang saiz operasinya kecil tetapi perlu membayar gaji yang tinggi kepada pekerja?

Memang tidak dinafikan bakal ada kesan seperti itu. Barangkali kerana itu Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najin Tun Razak menyebut kita perlu melihat dan menilai sektor-sektor industri sebelum gaji minima dilaksanakan. Dalam isu ini terdapat dua kaedah yang boleh dilaksankan.

Pertamanya melibatkan perlaksanaan secara umum iaitu satu kadar bagi semua. Kaedah kedua ialah berdasarkan sektor terutama bagi sektor yang mempunyai keperluan yang begitu mendesak seperti perkilangan dan perladangan. Di sektor ini ada pekerja yang ditawarkan gaji serendah RM350 sebulan.

Maka sektor-sektor sebegini yang perlu ditangani dahulu. Sekiranya ia tidak dapat dilaksanakan secara umum, saya berharap agar kita dapat melaksanakan gaji minimum sekurang-kurangnya mengikut sektor, terutama bagi sektor-sektor yang mempunyai kadar gaji yang rendah. Dari segi perlaksanaannya, saya rasa tidak akan membebankan terutama apabila kita melihat gaji rendah di industri perkilangan yang saya sebutkan adalah dari syarikat multi national yang merekodkan keuntungan berbilion ringgit.

Ketika syarikat-syarikat IKS ini merekodkan keuntungan, adalah amat penting bagi mereka terutama dalam isu moral bagi memastikan kebajikan pekerja. Bagi syarikat-syarikat gergasi pula, kita melihat bahawa terdapat 163 buah syarikat atau 17 peratus daripada syarikat-syarikat yang disenaraikan di Bursa Malaysia bedasarkan jualan dan keuntungan masing-masing. Melihat kepada sampel syarikat-syarikat yang menyertai program promosi pelaburan Malaysia GEMS 2010 pula, purata pulangan bagi ekuiti mereka adalah setinggi 18 peratus dan ada yang mencecah lebih 30 peratus.

Adakah penetapan gaji minimum yang tinggi akan menyebabkan berlakunya inflasi dan kenaikan harga barang?

Kita membuat kajian di beberapa negara dan mendapati bahawa perlaksanaan gaji minimum akan menyebabkan harga barang meningkat sedikit. Tetapi tidaklah mengakibatkan tekanan dan peningkatan inflasi yang tinggi atau teruk. Malah, kajian Pejabat Buruh Antarabangsa juga menyimpulkan bahawa harga barang yang melonjak tidak berlaku pada negara-negara yang memperkenalkan gaji minimum. Jika ada pun peningkatan harga barang, ianya akan dapat ditampung dan ditangani oleh pertambahan gaji.

Bagaimana pula dengan jaminan pekerjaan kepada golongan bawahan?

Saya tidak bersetuju dengan pandangan yang mengatakan penetapan gaji minima akan menyebabkan ramai kehilangan pekerjaan. Sebaliknya saya melihat apa yang berlaku adalah peningkatan persaingan dan produktiviti pekerja. Cuma pihak majikan kena ubah pemikiran bahawa dengan tidak melaksanakan gaji minima mereka akan dapat menjimatkan kos pengeluaran.

Mereka tidak melihat bahawa jika majikan membayar gaji minima yang lebih tinggi bersesuaian dengan kos sara hidup pekerja, maka pekerja akan lebih bermotivasi dan produktiviti mereka akan meningkat.

Adakah penetapan gaji minima ini akan memberi kesan dalam isu lambakan pekerja asing?

Dalam perkara ini, Pemuda BN mengharapkan gaji minimum yang lebih tinggi dapat mengurangkan kecenderungan majikan menggajikan pekerja asing yang tidak sah.

Dalam pada itu, fenomena di banyak kilang juga, pihak majikan sanggup menggajikan pekerja asing sekalipun gaji yang ditawarkan lebih tinggi daripada pekerja tempatan. Saya melihat ini suatu amalan diskriminasi yang menganaktirikan pekerja tempatan.

Dalam kita berharap kerajaan melaksanakan gaji minimum, kita juga menaruh harapan agar satu dasar dan tindakan dapat digarap bersama bagi menangani isu pekerja asing melalui peningkatan penguatkuasaan yang lebih ketat.

Isu ini sudah menjangkau hampir 20 tahun lamanya. Apa sebenarnya yang menghalang kerajaan daripada melaksanakannya?

Saya melihat ia mungkin berkait dengan pendekatan atau pemikiran pembuat dasar sebelum ini yang mempunyai kepercayaan kepada kuasa pasaran atau market forces bagi menetapkan kadar gaji. Tetapi hari ini kita menyedari bahawa pada masa kini terdapat 1.3 juta orang atau 34 peratus pekerja mendapat gaji RM700 sebulan dan ke bawah yang mana lebih rendah daripada PGK Semenanjung iaitu sebanyak RM720.

Isu ini juga mendesak ketika ini kerana ia bertepatan dengan hasrat kerajaan menjadi negara sebagai negara ekonomi berpendapatan tinggi. Ia selaras dengan MBE yang mana pendapatan per kapita rakyat dijangka mencecah AS$15,000 (RM49,500) pada 2020. Tetapi jika kita tidak memberi perhatian kepada gaji minimum iaitu gaji bagi rakyat kebanyakan yang berpendapatan terendah, akhirnya sasaran per kapita ini tidak akan dinikmati oleh mereka.

Akibatnya orang kaya akan menjadi lebih kaya dan orang miskin akan jadi lebih miskin. Jadi saya harap bagi memastikan keadilan sosial, kita akan dapat menawarkan gaji minimum dan perkara ini saya bangkitkan sebelum kerajaan memperkenalkan perincian MBE pada bulan Oktober nanti. Dengan harapan soal gaji minimum ini dimasukkan ke dalam MBE tersebut.

Sekiranya tidak, kita akan melihat berlakunya ketidakseimbangan dari sudut pendapatan dan jurang pendapatan yang amat ketara antara mereka yang berada atau berpendapatan tinggi dengan mereka yang berpendapatan rendah.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Isu Doa Khutbah Jumaat

(Nota: Gambar hiasan semata-mata)




Kerakusan kuasa YAB Lim Guan Eng di Pulau Pinang tampaknya semakin menjadi-jadi apabila telah 'dinobatkan' lebih afdal daripada Yang di-Pertuan Agong sendiri selaku Ketua Agama Islam di negari itu, sebagaimana laporan Utusan Malaysia yang menyatakan bahawa nama Seri Paduka Baginda telah digantikan dengan nama beliau semasa bacaan doa khutbah solat Jumaat di beberapa masjid di Permatang Pauh dan Jelutong sejak minggu lalu.

Justeru, Pergerakan Pemuda UMNO Malaysia (Pemuda UMNO) mendesak agar suatu siasatan dibuat segera berhubung perkara ini. Pemuda UMNO juga membantah dan menolak dengan keras penggantian itu, sekiranya benar terjadi, yang mana bukan sahaja menghina institusi raja selaku ketua agama bahkan kesucian masjid dengan penggunaan mimbar sebagai saluran politik bagi mengagungkan Lim Guan Eng.

Bahkan, kejadian ini adalah pelik lagi dangkal kerana pembacaan doa khutbah solat Jumaat sememangnya dikhususkan kepada Ketua Agama Islam Persekutuan atau Ketua Agama Islam Negeri, yakni Yang di-Pertuan Agong dan Sultan, dan bukannya untuk ketua eksekutif pentadbiran negeri iaitu Menteri Besar atau Ketua Menteri, tidak kira sama ada beliau itu Muslim atau tidak.

Sikap biadap seperti ini pastinyamembuat luka yang menyinggung hati umat Islam di Pulau Pinang dengan pembatalan perarakan Maulidur Rasul pada Februari lalu berdarah kembali.

Namun, apa yang lebih memeranjatkan adalah sikap membisu dan tidak ambil kisah oleh PAS yang sering mendabik dada sebagai pejuang Islam tetapi terbukti longlai di kaki 'Khalifah' Lim Guan Eng.

Lembaran sejarah Islam menunjukkan bahawa apabila suatu jajahan itu telah ditakluki oleh pemimpin baru atau berlaku sebarang peralihan kuasa, maka doa khutbah solat Jumaat akan ditujukan kepada pihak pemerintah yang baru sebagaimana kisah penyerahan kuasa daripada Daulah Fatimiah kepada Daulah Abbasiah di Mesir pada tahun 567 Hijriah yang disusuli oleh simbolik penggantian doa khutbah Jumaat daripada yang menyebut Khalifah Al-Adhid kepada Khalifah Al-Mustadhi dari Daulat Abbasiah. Jadinya, sikap berdiam diri yang ditonjolkan oleh PAS bukan sahaja menzahirkan kerelaan mereka di dalam mempromosikan cengkaman dan campur tangan DAP di dalam urusan umat Islam malahan juga mungkin suatu pengiktirafan PAS kepada kuasa dan pengaruh DAP sebagai penakluk baru di Pulau Pinang.

Malah ia juga membuktikan kuasa DAP yang bukan sahaja telah menguasai Pulau Pinang bahkan juga meminggiri PAS dan PKR, yang kelihatan begitu rela dan redha menjadi pak turut parti tersebut. Pakatan Rakyat atau PR kini nampaknya bukan lagi Pakatan Rakyat tetapi adalah Pelana Rezeki buat tunggangan rakus DAP.

Kenyataan Pemuda BN Berhubung Kenyataan Berbaur Perkauman Oleh Pengetua SMK Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra

Source: Rembau Dot Net




Pergerakan Pemuda Barisan Nasional (Pemuda BN) memandang serius dan mengecam keras kenyataan berbaur perkauman serta menghina yang didakwa telah diucapkan oleh Pengetua Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, Kulai Jaya, Johor pada 12 Ogos lalu.


Ucapan beliau yang dilaporkan menyebut bahawa pelajar berbangsa Cina tidak diperlukan di sini dan boleh pulang ke negara Cina disamping menyamakan gelang keagamaan agama Hindu yang dipakai oleh pelajar berbangsa India seperti rantai anjing adalah amat jijik dan begitu menonjolkan kejahilan beliau berhubung isu kewarganegaraan serta aspek ritual agama-agama lain di negara ini.


Bahkan, amat memeranjat dan memilukan sekali kerana semua itu diucapkan di hadapan murid-murid pelbagai bangsa semasa perhimpunan sekolah bersempena perayaan menyambut bulan kemerdekaan negara. Apakah beliau langsung tidak memikirkan perasaan para pelajar, terutama berbangsa Cina dan India, yang mengumandangkan lirik “Negaraku, Tanah tumpahnya darahku” semasa menyanyikan lagu kebangsaan pada majlis tersebut namun disajikan dengan ungkapan umpama menghina dan menghalau keluar dari negara ini?


Oleh itu, Pemuda BN berpendapat bahawa insiden ini, yang telah mengundang 17 laporan polis setakat ini, haruslah disiasat sepenuhnya dan sekiranya benar terjadi maka beliau hendaklah di dakwa bagi satu hukuman yang keras, di bawah Seksyen 504 Kanun Keseksaan atau seumpamanya, kerana ia langsung tidak boleh diterima sama sekali oleh masyarakat majmuk di negara ini.


Pemuda BN juga menyeru supaya Kerajaan tidak memandang remeh tentang perkara ini dan sekiranya benar ia berlaku maka suatu hukuman yang keras perlu dilaksanakan sebagai suatu pengajaran serta isyarat tegas bahawa mana-mana tindakan yang tidak selari dan sejajar dengan gagasan 1Malaysia, yang memupuk semangat perpaduan nasional, haruslah ditangani dan diambil tindakan yang sewajarnya.


Insiden ini, yang melibatkan seorang ketua pentadbir sebuah insititusi pendidikan, mahupun kes terdahulu yang membabitkan seorang bekas Pegawai Khas kepada YAB Perdana Menteri menampakkan bahawa isu perkauman adalah suatu permasalahan sistemik yang bukan sahaja wujud bahkan menular di dalam masyarakat majmuk di negara kita ini dan betapa amat mudah sekali bagi mana-mana pihak untuk terjebak di dalam apa jua provokasi mahupun konflik berbaur perkauman.


Sehubungan itu, disamping menekankan aspek punitif bagi sebarang insiden yang disabitkan kesalahannya, Pemuda BN juga menyeru agar Kerajaan dapat mencari jalan bagi mempertingkatkan lagi penyemaian dan penyuburan semangat serta nilai patriotisme dan perpaduan di kalangan rakyat disamping menginstitusikan usaha-usaha tersebut, terutama di dalam aspek penilaian dan kenaikan pangkat kakitangan Kerajaan bagi mengelakkan berulangnya insiden yang melibatkan seorang pegawai kanan Kerajaan, yang berperanan besar di dalam urus tadbir sebuah sekolah, seperti mana yang berlaku di Kulai Jaya, Johor ini.


Umum mengetahui bahawa isu perkauman adalah aspek dua hala yang bukan sahaja membabitkan kenyataan atau tindakan dari bangsa Melayu berhubung Bukan Melayu, bahkan begitu juga sebaliknya. Sehubungan dengan itu Pemuda BN menyeru semua pihak untuk bersifat waspada dan menghindarkan diri daripada mudah terjerumus ke kancah polemik dan konflik perkauman disamping kita semua bersama mencari titik penyelesaiannya. Inilah dianya cabaran 1Malaysia.

Khairy Jamaluddin : Solve The Root Cause First

(this post, that is taken from Rembau Dot Net, appears as a column in the 16th August weekly edition of The Edge)

I attended a forum at a local university recently discussing Malaysia's competitiveness. On the panel with me were two academics with diametrically opposed political views and the youth chief from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). I was looking forward to a decent, intellectual discussion on economic policy and the reforms that have been introduced by Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak's government in order to lift Malaysia from its 'middle-middle' (middle income, middling achievement) predicament. Of course, this didn't happen.


The forum was held the day after the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released its World Investment Report for 2010. The key take away for many from that report was that Malaysia suffered an 81% drop in foreign direct investments (FDI) inflow in 2009 from the year before. This headline figure was a godsend especially for the opposition. The PKR youth chief made a meal of the report without having any profound grasp of economics. All he needed to do was to plot the 81% drop on a graph to score visual points with the student audience. Unfortunately, much of the rest of the forum descended into political point scoring with my opposition counterpart trying his best to show how much - or little - he knows about finance ("Felda is on the brink of bankruptcy because its cash reserves have dwindled."). But that's for another day.


The point is that the UNCTAD report reduced all nuanced discussions on Malaysia’s economic competitiveness to one annual reduction - albeit a significant one - in FDI and how this is a clear signal that reforms are not working. While the sustained reduction in inward investments over the last few years has been a cause for concern, it is easy to overstate the figure highlighted by the UNCTAD. After bizarrely trying to dispute the figure in the report, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) finally got into damage control mode and sought to put the findings into its proper context.

Some of its arguments are valid: the drop in FDI is reflective of substantial reductions in global FDI flows, many advanced economies that make up our traditional sources for FDI have yet to see full economic recovery and a deliberate policy shift by the government to focus on high-technology investments which is still a work in progress. The second point is all the more relevant considering net FDI figures are adjusted for profit repatriation which count as outflows given that some USD 8 billion was sent by multinationals based here to their parent companies that were facing capital constraints during the financial crisis.


Other reasons given can be contested. For instance, much has been said that neighbouring countries with higher FDI numbers like Indonesia and Vietnam are at a lower stage of development hence receive much more investments in infrastructure whereas Malaysia while not yet fully developed doesn't have or need as many big works projects. This lower base argument is not wrong, but it doesn't fully explain why other neighbours like Singapore can attract more FDI over the same period without having to offer big investment opportunities in building highways, power plants and other big-ticket infrastructure items.

There are also problems with the industrial policy argument which excuses away lower FDI because of a deliberate shift from labour-intensive to capital-intensive and now to knowledge-based industries. Because of this strategic transformation, attracting FDI is more competitive and the returns that we get from every dollar that comes in is higher so lower inflow figures may not adequately reflect what we are getting out of it.


But the main issue here is, are we really prepared for the shift or is this a ready made excuse every time FDI numbers plunge y-o-y? If I remember correctly, every time FDI figures don't go our way, we say that its because we are more discerning in terms of investment. Previously, it was moving Malaysia away from labour-intensive sweatshops in our industrial estates to more value-added, capital intensive manufacturing. Now when it appears even capital-intensivity has fallen - capital investment per employee fell to RM507,335 in 2009 from RM620,571 the year before - we speak of the need to move to knowledge-based industries. Shifting the goalposts may sound good and make economic sense, but the feeling out there is that much of it is spin to deflect from lower investments in whatever category.


Another point about the industrial policy argument is whether or not we are ready for this to begin with. Don't get me wrong. We must move up the value chain in order to stay competitive and we cannot rely on cheap industries to continue to propel our economy as tempting as it is to fall back on foreign labour and subsidized utilities just to rack up the numbers. But the shift to capital intensive and knowledge-based industries presupposes the existence of a talent pool that can make the transformation happen. Based on publicly available data, 80% of our productive workforce under 40 only have SPM. Without reforms to the education system under way with a new, revamped option for vocational training, its difficult to see how present human capital inputs can create a viable shift in industrial policy. So, its all well and good having an intent to move up the value chain but when that intent is not matched by the ability to do so, then its all the more telling that maybe we're not getting in the targeted FDI because other destinations are seen as better offering the building blocks required for such industries.

And that really is the crux of the problem at hand. We are not an unattractive investment destination by any objective measure. Even the UNCTAD report which has caused much problems for our policy-makers maintained that Malaysia was one of the top 15 host countries for FDI. But in order to post better numbers and make a meaningful industrial shift in the quality of investments and economic activity we want to attract, we need to face up to some uncomfortable truths.



We need to acknowledge that bureaucratic reforms are still lagging global pace-setters. We need to admit that high-technology infrastructure is still sparsely available with very little consistency of service. And most importantly, we need to own up to the fact that despite having a skilled, multiracial population that is supposed to be proficient in English - at least this is what we tell investors - the reality is far different. The biggest problem that we face today, whether in terms of attracting FDI or maintaining economic competitiveness is the lack of innovation and talent in our workforce. And the root cause of that is how we educate and train young Malaysians. Solve that and we won't have to shift goalposts anymore every time UNCTAD's figures don't go our way.

Khairy Jamaluddin : Statesmen and Opportunists - A Rejoinder To Lim Kit Siang

Source: Rembau Dot Net



There are statesmen and there are opportunists. We learnt yesterday the shocking news that Petaling Jaya Utara MP YB Tony Pua received a bullet threat in the post. Immediately a chorus of condemnation ensued, and rightly so. At some point the politics and politicking need to take a backseat in favour of humanity and caring for each other's fundamental right to physical safety. It was in such spirit that I, as Leader of UMNO Youth, expressed outrage against the threat to YB Tony and his family, as well as urged the police to ensure their safety. It matters not that YB Tony is a DAP leader, or that we have our numerous disagreements politically, and it certainly does not matter that he is an ethnic Chinese. All that should count is that he is a Malaysian citizen who was threatened by an individual or individuals and that no justification exists for such a threat.


But as is often the case here, in times of shock or crisis, some politicians find ways to exploit sentiments and score political points against an opposing political party. A matter, to which sensible Malaysians can gravitate, suddenly becomes all about how UMNO or Barisan Nasional is at fault. In the minds of such politicians, the politics never stops; in their actions and statements they insist our entire social lives be governed by narrow, belligerent partisan logic, 24/7.


One such politician who tends to do this is YB Lim Kit Siang. We shan't go through history here to see how often he has exploited tensions, conflicts and unease for partisan gains. His recent blog post suffices.


In it, YB Lim Kit Siang implies that the threat was a result of "communal hatred against YB Tony". He precedes this insinuation by stating the police reports and warnings made against YB Tony made by UMNO Youth Selangor and the UMNO Information Chief. He is careful to avoid blaming UMNO outright on his blog, but we all know what he's trying to say.


Was the bullet threat motivated by discontent in parts of the Malay community about YB Tony's position on the Bumiputera housing discount? Likely, though we cannot rule out any possibility until the police conclude their investigations, hence the call I made earlier for speculations to be kept at bay. For the sake of argument, was UMNO at the forefront of this Malay discontent? Sure. But instead of trying to empathise with such disgruntlement, YB Lim Kit Siang dismisses it with adjectives like 'irresponsible', 'ugly' and 'vicious' - because he'd like very much for people to believe that UMNO manufactured the discontent, and that in doing so UMNO similarly created a "communal hatred" against an individual resulting in a bullet threat. Talk about generalising and piling one assumption over another.


Nevermind that many Malays who have nothing to do with UMNO feel strongly about the issue of Bumiputera housing discounts, it is what YB Lim Kit Siang omits from his statement that interests me most. If he is going to assume that the threat was racially motivated, then I say bravo, Captain Obvious. But especially so being a veteran politician, YB Lim Kit Siang should follow that up with calls for calm, join UMNO Youth and others in rallying all Malaysians of all races to stand in solidarity against extremism. He could have stated that even if the threat was racially motivated, it was not representative of any community. These are exactly the things YB Lim Kit Siang should say if he has the country's interests at heart. But true to form, instead of defusing the situation, YB Lim Kit Siang sought to worsen it by fanning the very "communal hatred" he is convinced exists - provoke UMNO, ridicule the aforementioned discontent and hope people see it through his partisan eyes.


But I have more faith in Malaysians than YB Lim Kit Siang does. Just as Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans and all the various ethnicities in this great country rose up against the arson attacks early this year, I believe we will do the same whenever anyone receives death threats for stating their views, even if there are racial or religious dimensions involved. We are a resilient lot; push comes to shove, we know to put our differences aside and stand together. Well, most of us, anyway. There are statesmen and there are opportunists.

Pemuda UMNO Prihatin Kenaikan Harga Barang






Pergerakan Pemuda UMNO (Pemuda UMNO) amat perihatin dengan tren kenaikan harga barangan yang kini sudah menjadi suatu yang sinonim dengan musim perayaan di negara kita. Senario kenaikan harga ini terbukti apabila media melaporkan dua insiden kenaikan harga melibatkan ayam dan juga bawang putih yang mana menyaksikan kenaikan antara 30 sen sehingga RM1.50 sekilogram bagi ayam dan juga lonjakan mendadak daripada lingkungan RM3.00 hingga RM3.50 sekilogram bagi bawang putih.


Berkisar dengan isu ayam, Pemuda UMNO berasa kesal dengan sikap pembekal dan pemborong yang mengambil peluang untuk menjana keuntungan lebih serta tidak mengendahkan nasihat YAB Perdana Menteri, Dato’Sri Mohd Najib Tun Razak yang mengingatkan golongan peniaga agar tidak sewenang-wenangnya menaikkan harga barang tatakala bulan Ramadhan ini.


Tindakan sebegini bukan sahaja membebankan pengguna malahan memberi maklum balas pasaran yang negatif terhadap keputusan Kerajaan untuk memansuhkan lesen ayam bermula 15 Julai lepas. Ini kerana golongan pengguna, terutama sekali mereka yang tidak mempunyai peluang dan kuasa memilih oleh kerana lokasi atau pun tindakan peniaga yang berpakat, pastinya akan tertindas dan teraniaya.


Sehubungan itu Pemuda UMNO mengecam sebarang amalan pengambilan untung berlebihan atau mencatut dengan menaikkan harga barang yang tidak berpatutan di kala permintaan tinggi semasa musim perayaan dan dengan itu meminta agar kerajaan dapat menyegerakan perlaksanaan undang-undang anti pencatutan. Ini kerana undang-undang sedemikian beserta pemantauan dan penguatkuasaan yang efektif dan menyeluruh bakal mengekang serta membendung amalan tidak beretika peniaga bukan sahaja di kala musim perayaan namun jika apabila berlaku sebarang pengurangan subsidi seperti subsidi bahan bakar, yang mana sebelum ini menunjukkan kenaikan tinggi barangan yang tidak setimpal dengan unjuran kos pihak peniaga.


Disamping itu, Pemuda UMNO juga gusar dengan peningkatan harga yang mencecah sehingga 143 peratus dan 184 peratus sekilogram bagi bawang putih yang mana menurut Presiden Persatuan Import dan Eksport Barangan Makanan Malaysia adalah disebabkan oleh banjir yang melanda kawasan penanaman bawang putih di Cina seperti Henan dan Shandong. Difahamkan Malaysia mengimport 100 peratus keperluan bawang putih negara dari Cina yang juga pengeluar terbesar dunia dengan menguasai 77 peratus saiz pengeluaran.


Namun demikian, hasil kajian Pemuda UMNO bahawa kenaikan harga bawang putih di pasaran antarabangsa tidak sepenuhnya disebabkan oleh bencana alam banjir di Cina. Ini kerana kenaikan harga ini juga didorongi oleh faktor pengeluaran pengeluaran sebanyak 50 peratus oleh pengusaha dan penanam bawang putih unjuran harga bawang yang rendah pada tahun 2008 serta aktiviti spekulasi pasaran yang membuat taruhan dagangan pada komoditi bawang putih.


Sehubungan dengan itu, disamping mengambil maklum akan penjelasan yang diberikan oleh Persatuan Pengimport dan Pengeksport Barangan Makanan Malaysia, Pemuda UMNO juga berharap agar pihak Kementerian Perdagangan Dalam Negeri, Koperasi dan Kepenggunaan dapat mencari jalan untuk mengurang dan mengekang risiko kenaikan harga yang tidak berasaskan kepada pasaran sebenar seperti kegiatan spekulasi melalui proses rundingan pukal jangka panjang ataupun kaedah lain yang dapat membendung gejala ini.


Disamping itu juga, Pemuda UMNO meminta pihak berkuasa dan juga orang ramai agar dapat meningkatkan usaha pemantauan bersama bagi mengelakkan aktiviti pencatutan menerusi kenaikan harga dengan tinggi atau tidak berpatutan mahupun sebarang amalan penyorokan barangan.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Anwar Misled The US Government?



During a press conference held on the last day of the parliamentary session yesterday, Khairy Jamaluddin revealed a report of Government Accountability Project (GAP), a leading whistleblower protection organisation in the USA, that shows Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim et al had allegedly misled the U.S. Government to disburse public funds for the Foundation For The Future.

The report can be found at: http://www.whistleblower.org

A. Summary

· A report released by the GAP on 8 July 2010, exposes a highly irregular manner in which the Foundation for the Future (FFF – an entity that was previously chaired by Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim ) was run.

· Specifically, the report details how the Congress was misled for the release of USD 21.3 millions of the U.S. public money for the Foundation.

· The report, which is based on 267 documents released by the Department of State over a period of 33 months, found that in order to obtain the disbursement to the FFF, the US Congress had been deluded about the funding pledged to the Foundation by other governments. Evidence strongly suggests that section 534(k) of US Public Law 109-102, which at that time stipulated that funds could only be made available to the Foundation to the extent that they had been matched by contributions from other governments, was violated; the Foundation’s own reports show that less than $6.4 million of the $22.26 million in “matching funds” listed by the State Department in its communications with Congress as pledged ever materialised.

· GAP’s report also suggests that FFF management – including former FFF Chairman (and close friend of Paul Wolfowitz) Anwar Ibrahim – misled the US Internal Revenue Service. The FFF’s financial statements for 2006 and 2007 stated that the Foundation did not attempt to influence national legislation, an assertion contradicted by the cables and reports released by the Department of State. These documents suggest that several Foundation representatives actively lobbied the US Congress in 2006-07 for legislative changes favourable to the FFF.


B. Disbursement of “Matching” Funds

On June 12, 2007, Mr. David Welch of the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs sent an Action Memo to the Acting Director of US Foreign Assistance, requesting that she approve “the notification and obligation of $21,300,000 in FY 2006 ESF and FY 2006 Supplemental Economic Support Funds (ESF) by the Middle East Partnership Initiative for the Foundation for the Future,” which she did that same day.

According to that memo:

The FY 2006 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act provided that up to $35 million in ESF may be made available to the Foundation only to the extent that the Foundation has commitments from sources other than the United States government to at least match the funds provided under the act. As of June 1, 2007, a total of $22.26 million has been pledged by other governments.

On June 15, a Congressional Notification Transmittal Sheet was sent from the State Department informing Congress of the intent to obligate $21.3 million to the FFF. According to a description of the Foundation that accompanied this notification:

A total of $22.26 million has been pledged by other governments, including the European Commission (1 million Euros or approximately 1.26 million), Spain ($1 illion), the United Kingdom ($1 million), Switzerland ($1 million), Denmark($2 million), Netherlands ($1 million), Greece ($1.5 million), Turkey ($500,000), Jordan ($1 million), Qatar ($10 million), and Bahrain ($2 million)… The amount notified here, combined with the funds already provided to Eurasia, make up the $22.2 million allowable for the Foundation at this time under the Act’s requirements for matching funds.

On July 18, the Foundation signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the State Department regarding these funds. In this MOA, Anwar Ibrahim, Chairman and Acting President of the FFF Board, agreed that the Foundation had “received commitments from sources other than the United States Government to at least match any funds provided hereunder.”

The Foundation for the Future is required by Public Law 110-053 to submit its annual report to Congress. These annual reports suggest that the matching amounts cited in the Congressional Notification sheet and MOA were erroneous.

According to the Foundation’s Annual Reports, it actually received USD $27,785,222 total in government contributions from 2006-2009, $21,388,057 of which were US government funds. Therefore, only USD $6,397,165 – less than 30 percent of the putative $22.26 million in “matching funds” – materialised.

Thus, the actual amount of funds committed by other governments was far below the $22.26 million figure that the State Department cited to justify authorization from Congress to disburse matching US funds.


C. Anwar’s Role

Misrepresenting the U.S. Government: -

[1] As Chairman and Acting President of the Foundation For the Future Board, he stated that, in a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the State Department signed on 18 July 2007, that the Foundation had received commitments from sources other than the U.S. Government to at least match any funds provided by the U.S.

[2] During his watch as Chairman, The FFF’s financial statements for 2006 and 2007, stated that the Foundation did not attempt to influence national legislation, an assertion contradicted by the cables and reports released by the Department of State. These documents suggest that several Foundation representatives actively lobbied the US Congress in 2006-07 for legislative changes favorable to the FFF.

Concealing the U.S. Government’s contribution:-

[1] On 20 May 2007, Anwar issued a media statement asserting that the U.S. Government did not provide any funds for the Foundation.

An extract of that statement is as follows:

Yayasan tersebut merupakan sebuah badan independent, melibatkan kerajaan dan masyarakat madani untuk menyokong badan-badan bukan kerajaan di dalam usaha membangunkan demokrasi dan kebebasan di Timur Tengah dan Afrika Utara.Dari awal, sebanyak US$56 juta telah dijanjikan kepada Yayasan. Setakat ini, Yayasan hanya menerima dana dari Turki, United Kingdom dan Jordan, antara lain. Amerka Syarikat tidak memberikan sebarang dana kepada Yayasan..

[2] On 22 May 2007, Anwar was quoted by Utusan Malaysia of uttering that the Foundation did not received a single cent from any parties in the U.S.A. and characterised reports that claimed otherwise as simply a smear campaign.

Extract of Anwar’s quotes from the Utusan Malaysia’s article:

“Saya sungguh kecewa kerana perkara ini dijadikan satu propaganda kotor. AS tidak pernah memberi satu sen pun kepada yayasan ini dan kami mempunyai bukti.

However:

[1] The GAP findings show that the U.S. Government had paid USD21.3 million to the foundation from 2006 to 2009.

[2] A Washington Post new article dated 14 April 2007, that is 35 days before the release of Anwar’s statement on 20 May 2007, reported that the U.S. Government contributed almost two-thirds of the foundation's $56 million budget based on information it obtained from the State Department.

[3] Further as the Foundation Chairman and member of the Board since mid 2006, Anwar must have been updated and made aware of the Foundation’s operation and fund-seeking exercise.

Notes:

[1] The Washing Post report:

Woman in World Bank Controversy Working on Mideast Project
By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 14, 2007

The woman at the center of the storm surrounding World Bank President Paul D. Wolfowitz has spent the past few months trying to get one of the signature efforts of President Bush's Middle East democracy campaign off the ground.

The Foundation for the Future, as the effort is called, has made no grants and held only two board meetings since its creation 1 1/2 years ago. Though Shaha Riza, who has been romantically linked to Wolfowitz, is not listed as part of the staff on the organization's Web site, she is the only person working in the group's offices, located within the Henry L. Stimson Center, a think tank. The Washington office is listed as a "branch," according to the site, which promises that soon a main office will be established in Beirut.

"It is basically just her running this thing," said Tamara Cofman Wittes, research fellow at the Brookings Institution Saban Center for Middle East Policy, who closely tracks democracy programs in the region. She said the board members had no experience in grant-making and thus had "started from zero," with no bylaws or grant-making guidelines. She said the board has had a goal of trying to make its first grant by summer, nearly two years after the organization was formed.

The United States contributed almost two-thirds of the foundation's $56 million budget, according to the State Department, which said last night that the foundation plans to hire a chief operating officer and chief financial officer next month.

Since September 2005, the World Bank has paid Riza's salary -- which under the terms of a contract dictated by Wolfowitz included automatic raises that has brought it to $193,590 tax-free -- while she was seconded to the State Department to assist on Middle East democracy issues. There, she worked under Elizabeth Cheney, who was then principal deputy assistant secretary; Wolfowitz worked for Cheney's father as an undersecretary of defense in the George H.W. Bush administration.

Elizabeth Cheney, who has since left the State Department, was in charge of democracy promotion and was instrumental in creating the Foundation for the Future, which Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced with fanfare at a conference in Bahrain in November 2005. The foundation would make grants that let "reformers to draw upon their ideas and their ideals to nurture grass-roots organizations that support the development of democracy," Rice said.

Riza moved to the foundation in December 2006 to become senior adviser to its executive committee and board of directors, according to documents released yesterday by the World Bank. The one board member from the United States is retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who was traveling yesterday and could not be reached for comment.

A letter dated Oct. 1, 2006, from Anwar Ibrahim, the foundation's chairman, to Robin Cleveland, Wolfowitz's counselor, said that if Riza moved from State to the foundation, she would recruit staff, supervise the hiring and training of senior management in the Middle East, identify programs to receive grants and supervise the implementation of policies on programs, finances and administration. "The Bank concurs with this proposal," Cleveland handwrote on Dec. 14, 2006.

After meeting in Geneva in February, the executive committee announced that it would hold a "logo competition" for the region's youth and had reviewed proposals for a civil society resource center and a conference on rule of law.

Riza, who did not return phone calls or e-mails, wrote the World Bank earlier this week that she had not wanted to take the assignments outside the bank, according to a letter released by the bank.

Especially suspicious was the State Department’s representation of a murky $10 million pledge from Qatar, the largest “pledge” of any country other than the United States. Documents indicate that the State Department knew that this pledge would never materialize when it asked Congress to disburse matching funds.

GAP’s report also suggests that FFF management – including former FFF Chairman (and close friend of Paul Wolfowitz) Anwar Ibrahim, who is currently a Malaysian parliamentarian – misled the US Internal Revenue Service. The FFF’s financial statements for 2006 and 2007 state that the Foundation did not attempt to influence national legislation, an assertion contradicted by the cables and reports released by the Department of State. These documents suggest that several Foundation representatives actively lobbied the US Congress in 2006-07 for legislative changes favorable to the FFF.


[2] Anwar’s Media Statement on 20 May 2007

KENYATAAN MEDIA FOUNDATION FOR THE FUTURE

Foundation for the Future (Yayasan Masa Hadapan) mula-mula diumumkan di Bahrain pada November 2005 oleh menteri-menteri luar dan pembangunan dari Timur Tengah, Afrika Utara, Eropah dan Amerika Syarikat.

Yayasan tersebut merupakan sebuah badan independent, melibatkan kerajaan dan masyarakat madani untuk menyokong badan-badan bukan kerajaan di dalam usaha membangunkan demokrasi dan kebebasan di Timur Tengah dan Afrika Utara.Dari awal, sebanyak US$56 juta telah dijanjikan kepada Yayasan. Setakat ini, Yayasan hanya menerima dana dari Turki, United Kingdom dan Jordan, antara lain. Amerka Syarikat tidak memberikan sebarang dana kepada Yayasan..

Saya dijemput untuk menyertai lembaga pengarah Yayasan pada pertengahan 2006 bersama-sama wakil dari Maghribi, Kuwait, Iraq, Sepanyol, Syria, Turki, Lubnan, Amerika Syarikat, Arab Saudi, Mesir, Switzerland dan Qatar.

Ahli lembaga pengarah yang lain termasuklah Kamel Abu Jaber, penasihat kepada Menteri Luar Jordan; Dr. Cornelio Sommaruga, bekas Presiden Jawatankuasa Palang Merah Antarabangsa; Professor Ibrahim Kallin, penasihat Menteri Luar Turki, dan Sandra Day O'Connor, bekas hakim Mahkamah Agung Amerika Syarikat.

Mesyuarat lembaga pengarah yang pertama diadakan di Doha, Qatar di atas jemputan Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani, Menteri Luar dan kini Perdana Menteri Qatar pada 15 Julai 2006, dan saya telah dipilih secara sebulat suara sebagai Pengerusi Kehormat Yayasan. Keputusan yang disepakati ialah untuk mendirikan ibu pejabat di Beirut, Lubnan.

Walau bagaimanapun, di dalam mesyuarat lembaga pengarah pada 4 Disember 2006 di Amman, Jordan, saya bertemu Menteri Luar Jordan Abdelelah Al-Khatib, yang menyokong saranan penubuhan sekretariat serantau di Amman memandangkan penangguhan di dalam mendirikan ibu pejabat Beirut akibat serangan Israel terhadap Lubnan. Mesyuarat lembaga pengarah seterusnya akan diadakan pada 29-30 Mei 2007 di Bahrain.

Saya tidak melantik Shaha Ali Reza ke Yayasan. Beliau mula-mula ditugaskan oleh Bank Dunia menerusi Jabatan Negara Amerika Syarikat untuk Yayasan pada hujung 2005 sebelum saya menjadi Pengerusi. Jawatankuasa eksekutif telah memutuskan pada pertengahan 2006 untuk menyeragamkan perlantikan tersebut agar Shaha menasihati secara langsung dari Bank Dunia dan bukannya Jabatan Negara.

Yayasan tersebut akan mengeluarkan kenyataan penuh selepas mesyuarat di Bahrain minggu hadapan. Tetapi, memandangkan propaganda yang berterusan dari media kawalan Umno, saya telah memutuskan untuk mengeluarkan kenyataan ini. Sekiranya tiada penjelasan oleh media berkenaan isu ini, Yayasan tidak akan teragak-agak untuk memulakan tindakan perundangan terhadap pihak-pihak terbabit.

ANWAR IBRAHIM
Pengerusi Yayasan Masa Hadapan
** Kenyataan Anwar pada 20 Mei 2007

[3] ARKIB : 22/05/2007 – Utusan Malaysia

Anwar cabar buktikan kaitannya dengan Bank Dunia

KUALA LUMPUR 21 Mei – Pengerusi Yayasan bagi Masa Depan, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim mencabar mana-mana pihak yang mengkritiknya supaya membuktikan kaitan antara yayasan itu dengan Presiden Bank Dunia, Paul Wolfowitz.

Beliau berkata, yayasan tersebut tidak pernah berurusan dengan Bank Dunia dan tidak menerima bantuan kewangan daripada mana-mana pihak dari Amerika Syarikat (AS).

“Saya sungguh kecewa kerana perkara ini dijadikan satu propaganda kotor. AS tidak pernah memberi satu sen pun kepada yayasan ini dan kami mempunyai bukti.

“Ini semua propaganda yang menggunakan akhbar-akhbar tempatan bagi memanipulasi keadaan,’’ katanya kepada pemberita selepas menghadiri majlis perasmian bangunan Ibu Pejabat Pas di Jalan Raja Laut di sini hari ini.

KJ Beri Pandangan Bernas Bela Rakyat Dalam Pindaan Akta Sewa Beli 1967


Semasa sessi perbahasan Rang Undang-undang Pindaan terhadap Akta Sewa Beli 1967 pada Selasa lepas, YB Ahli Parlimen Rembau yang juga Ketua Pemuda UMNO, Khairy Jamaluddin telah membangkitkan 4 cadangan bernas berkaitan pindaan terhadap Akta tersebut.

Berikut adalah intipati cadangan-cadangan beliau:

[1] Pada masa kini tidak ada sebarang undang-undang yang menyeragam atau mengawal amalan penarik kenderaan – yang ada cuma Guidelines on the Appointment and Conduct of the Repossessor,’ yang dikeluarkan oleh the Association of Finance Companies of Malaysia. Sehubungan dengan itu, selain pindaan positif ini yang semewangnya wajar bagi melindungi pengguna selaku pembeli kereta, Kerajaan juga harus mencari jalan atau mekanisme di mana amalan penarik kenderaan dapat dipantau dengan lebih efektif melalui penetapan garis panduan etika dan perilaku penarik-penarik kereta.

[2] Salah satu isu bagi pelanggan adalah caj yang dikenakan bagi penarikan balik dan penyimpanan (repossession and storage fees) yang tinggi dan berbeza-beza. Adalah dicadangkan agar caj ini dinilai dan dipertimbangkan supaya satu carta garis-panduan berkenaan caj ini dikeluarkan dan dijadikan sebahagian daripada Akta.
Pada masa sekarang caj penarikan kereta dan penyimpanan ditentukan secara arbitari oleh pihak Bank.

[3] Fasal 7 daripada RUU mencadangkan Seksyen 16 dipinda. Secara ringkasnya isu pokok bagi pindaan Seksyen 16 adalah berkenaan pembayaran 1/3 daripada jumlah hutang. Jika dibayar kurang daripada 1/3 maka pihak bank boleh mengambil kereta atau repossesses the vehicle secara direct atau terus tetapi jika peminjam telah membayar melebihi 1/3 daripada jumlah hutang, pihak bank hendaklah mendapatkan perintah mahkamah terlebih dahulu.

Pendekatan ini adalah suatu yang positif dengan mana ia membezakan antara proses penarikan semula kereta bagi hutang yang sudah dibayar lebih tinggi berbanding pembayaran yang rendah dan memberi ruang sedikit, breathing space kepada penghutang dengan adanya keperluan untuk mendapatkan perintah mahkamah.

Namun, dalam aspek 1/3 pembayaran pinjaman ini - secara realitinya, kebanyakan peminjam sewa beli yang bermasalah adalah di bawah kategori peminjam yang menjelaskan kurang daripada 1/3, yakni pembeli kereta yang baru dan golongan muda yang baru menjejaki alam perkerjaan. Mereka dilingkungan umur 20-an dan 30-an adalah yang tergolong ramai di dalam kelompok ini dan banyak yang baru sahaja bekerja. Jadi, saya pohon agar Kementerian dapat mempertimbangkan untuk menurunkan kadar minima untuk perintah mahkamah ke satu kadar yang lebih rendah, mungkin 1/5 atau ¼ daripada jumlah hutang bagi meringankan beban peminjam terutama di situasi ekonomi sekarang.

[4] Dari segi perubahan berskala besar pula, adalah diharapkan agar Kerajaan dapat mempertimbangkan cadangan supaya kesemua akta-akta, atau peruntukan yang melibatkan kredit pengguna di bawah akta-akta berkenaan, yang berkaitan dengan kredit pengguna digubal dan disatukan di bawah suatu akta iaitu akta kredit pengguna, sebagaimana amalan negara-negara membangun seperti United Kingdom dan juga New Zealand. Ini penting kerana undang-undang sedia ada tidak menyeluruh dan berpecah-pecah sebagai contoh Akta Pemberi Pinjaman Wang, Akta Pajak Gadai dan juga Akta Bank dan Institusi Kewangan. Perubahan ini akan pastinya lebih komprehensif dan mengambil kira kepentingan pengguna melebihi entiti-entiti lain.

Monday, July 12, 2010

World Cup final: Acts of the apostles claim victory and vindication

Netherlands vs Spain

Spain's victory last night, no matter the nature of the match itself, will come as a sunburst of vindication for those to whom the simple game of football, at its most perfectly realised, represents a form of art to which every player should aspire. After so many decades of failing to live up to their potential, the Spain players have emerged over the last World Cup cycle as apostles of a way of playing the game that emphasises touch, subtlety, anticipation and a finely tuned form of collective thinking.

They call it tiki-taka, an almost onomatopoeic term for the short passes that mount up like beats on a snare drum, laid out in constantly changing rhythms and at angles determined by the willingness of every player to support the man in possession.

This is football as it is played in Arsène Wenger's dreams, a game of patient accumulation in which the ball is coaxed towards the opposition's goal while barely touching the feet of players who are constantly in fluid motion. At all times aware of each other's changing positions, they take opponents out of the game through deftness and movement rather than muscularity.

Their critics claim that when this style – whether played by Spain, Barcelona or Arsenal – is not achieving results, its rhythms become monotonous and demonstrate the lack of alternative strategies. But now that tiki-taka has captured both the world and European titles, its exponents are entitled to turn such charges back in those critics' faces.

It is true that no one who values the game's ability to produce fascinating contrasts between teams of divergent styles would want to see this particular approach prevail to the exclusion of all others. A league made up of nothing but tiki-taka would be like watching a needlework competition, just as a league made up of long-ball football would be like watching truck racing.

But the faith in the values of technique and imagination demonstrated by the products of Barcelona's academy – about half of Spain's team throughout this tournament – should be fundamental to the education of all young players, which means that last night's result can only be a good thing if it interests more young players around the world in learning how to control and circulate the ball like Xavi and Andrés Iniesta.

Not that Spain are a team without contrasts, or with only one gear. No side containing Carles Puyol could be accused of disdain for passion or physicality. Beneath those cherub's curls is the face of a man you might not want to encounter in a darkened side street off the Rambla del Raval. He may not wear the national team's armband, but he has behaved throughout this tournament exactly as he does when captaining Barcelona, and the marvellous headed goal that eliminated Germany in the semi-final – a technical achievement on a par with any of David Villa's goals – was perhaps the key moment of the entire campaign.

History will debate how much Spain owe to Vicente del Bosque, their head coach, who took over from Luis Aragonés after the Euro 2008 campaign, where success put fresh wind in the team's sails. What is certain is that he and Marcello Lippi are now the only coaches to have won both the World and European cups.

When the first official match took place in Spain in 1890, the sides representing Huelva Recreation Club and Sevilla Football Club between them contained 20 British players, mostly employees of the Rio Tinto mining company and Seville's water works. An echo of the British influence lingers in the modern players' retention of the term "Mister" to address their managers. Now Del Bosque has become the Mister of Misters, the 28th full-time coach of Spain but the first to guide them to victory in the World Cup. The 59-year-old from Salamanca, whose jowly, unsmiling visage and rumpled wardrobe give him the look of a small-town minicab driver nearing the end of a week of night shifts, has once again proved himself an unassuming master of his craft.

No one can question his credentials as a football man. After playing 312 league matches as a defender for Real Madrid between 1970 and 1984 and winning 18 caps, he supervised Real's junior sides and took over as head coach from 1999 to 2003, winning two European Cups and two Spanish championships before Florentino Pérez, the club's president, decided he was not the right man to remain in charge of a squad overstuffed with galácticos.

That announcement, made the day after Del Bosque had led the team to their 29th title, looked irresponsible at the time and idiotic now. As well as being a victory for artistic football, Spain's first World Cup is also one for managers who are not interested in seeing their images blown up into posters promoting credit cards or mobile phones, and who are happy to stand back and let a group of gifted players take the credit, as Del Bosque did last night.

Sak Mongkol: Is KJ the Tonto to Najib’s Lone Ranger?


DS Najib is a Lone Ranger on many issues. I have touched about this in a previous article. The Lone Ranger has a Tonto. And on many issues, Najib's Tonto seems to be his Ketua Pemuda. 

My friend Aspan Alias through his blog has written something unpleasant about Khairy Jamaluddin (KJ) - the ketua Pemuda UMNO. Until today, Aspan has always been fair to KJ. He asked the same question that I have often asked. How do we reconcile the fact that the UMNO KP hasn't been appointed to any post in the government. There is a glaring blot in the power structure. The MCA Youth Head, the MCA wanita previously, the deputy KP of UMNO were all given posts. But until today, KJ hasn't got anything yet. 

You want him to enter the battle fields, but you encumber his arsenal. He hasn't got sufficient tools to battle. 

Aspan's sore point is his perception that KJ hasn't matured all round. His conclusion rests on KJ's clash with Ibrahim Ali on a number of issues. He thinks it better if KJ focuses on meatier issues such as Malay economic interests.

But I would like to look at the subtle messages that Aspan has written. The two top UMNO leaders are speaking at cross purposes. Najib is speaking as a liberal. He is perceived to be all things to all people. He needs the Chinese votes and he needs the Indian votes. otherwise his 1Malaysian concept is hollow. Muhyidin on the other hand is championing Malay causes. He is more in tandem with Ibrahim Al's Perkasa and by extension to what Dr Mahathir is espousing. I am not surprised , despite the public endorsements to Najib's administration, Dr Mahathir finds a better soul mate in Muhyidin than Najib.

Thus Najib has to be careful here. He has to strike a balance between pursuing his vision of 1Malaysia and Dr Mahathir's trenchant criticism in waiting. I say in waiting because sooner or later, the bubble will burst. 

Where does KJ fit into the whole scheme of things? He appears to be the only UMNO leader championing what Najib is thinking of. I am told that PM Najib isn't that too enthusiastic that Perkasa is stealing his thunder. I hear he would encourage the emergence of Malay NGOs to counter balance Ibrahim' Perkasa. But as I have written, that would be too late as the horses have already bolted. Thus he has no other choice but to rely on internal resources to contain Ibrahim's growing credence among the Malays. Left unchecked, Perkasa's inroad into the Malay heartland with Ibrahim's brand of right wing politics will undermine Najib's 1 Malaysia. 

We have to ask then, what motivates KJ to enter into skirmishes with Ibrahim and used Ibrahim, as Aspan said, as the standard measure of everything that is at odds with Najib?

The only possible reason to explain KJ's emboldened approach in dealing with Ibrahim is, that this is what Najib actually wants. If KJ was the only one responding correctly to Najib's messages, then I say, this is to KJ's credit. 

In my experience as a former ADUN and Ketua Penerangan UMNO Pekan, the KP sits in the powerful UMNO political bureau. PM Najib may have expressed misgivings about what Perkasa has been doing and by doing so must have hoped that his able committee members would pick up the cudgels and bludgeon Ibrahim Ali.

As an important member of the bureau, KJ must have read the signals from Najib to put a damper on Ibrahim's unsolicited championing of the Malay cause. Ibrahim Ali is not an UMNO member and his Perkasa appears to be a magnet for any disgruntled UMNO persons. This is probably the sore point of many loyal UMNO leaders and Ketua Bahagians who would welcome a strong and firm rebuke from UMNO.

I would interpret what KJ has done by crossing swords with Ibrahim Ali and the recently free agent of an MP of Wangsa Maju, as interpreting what the UMNO president actually wants. That would make KJ as more perceptive than the other dull Janes and Jacks in UMNO. 

Muhyiddin isn't seen to be in sync with Najib, the 3 VPs are immersed in their own politics, the wanita leader is thinking of getting a legitimate elected seat. So KJ picks up the cudgels to do battle with Ibrahim and Ibrahim's equivalents.

What KJ has done will not be interpreted as immature if the UMNO president himself lends his weight on KJ. I am puzzled that between his own KP and the strident voices emanating from Ibrahim's quarters, UMNO President Najib hasn't shown his clear hand. 

He should be supporting his KP. Once he does that, I assure you all the UMNO people will be saying well done KJ. I know because that's the UMNO culture.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

KJ Ketengahkan Isu Gaji Mati Anggota Bawahan Tentera


Sebagaimana maklum, KJ telah menyertai Askar Wataniah dan menjalani latihan asas perajurit muda selama sebulan sebagai rekrut biasa dari 26 April hingga 25 Mei lalu. Ini suatu tindakan dan syiar yang patut dipuji apatah lagi apabila beliau bertegas rela dan mahu menjawat pangkat prebet sahaja sekalipun ditawarkan pangkat tinggi Mejar kehormat.

Hang Tegar tabik spring pada KJ sebab mampu berbuat demikian dan sping Hang Tegar makin mantap elastisiti-nya apabila mendapat tahu bahawa KJ telah mengusulkan supaya sistem gaji anggota tentera dikaji dan dirombak terutama sekali bagi meleraikan masalah gaji mati atau “fenomena langgar dinding” di kalangan anggota Lain-lain Pangkat (LLP) di Divisyen Infantri.

Di dalam penjelasan beliau, KJ telah memberikan contoh bahawa mereka berpangkat Sarjan di Divisyen Infantri hanya boleh memperolehi gaji hingga Band 3 tahap P2, berbanding LLP di Divisyen lain yang boleh meningkat hingga ke Band 4 dan 5, walhal askar infantri adalah rifleman kita yang berada di barisan paling hadapan dan merempuh risiko pertempuran paling tinggi. Ramai yang mengalami status gaji mati sedangkan mereka telah memperolehi kemahiran atau kelayakan tambahan dan juga bebanan tugas yang meningkat.

Disamping itu, Hang Tegar dimaklumkan yang KJ juga mengenengahkan keadaan di mana ramai anggota LLP yang bukan sahaja berstatus gaji mati tetapi juga situasi pangkat tak naik-naik buat sekian lama.

Hang Tegar amat bersetuju dengan usul dan perkara yang diketengahkan oleh KJ sebab anggota LLP merupakan 91% daripada ketumbukan penuh angkatan tentera kita. Malahan dalam isu imbuhan, gaji mereka sememangnya patut dikanankan sebagaimana Pekeliling Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam Bilangan 256 (21) yang dibaca bersama Perkara 132 Perlembagaan Persekutuan telah menetapkan bahawa gaji angkatan tentera mesti kanan dari anggota Polis Diraja Malaysia dan jabatan lain.

Akhir kata, Hang Tegar ucap syabas kepada KJ sebab amat perihatin kepada angkatan tentera kita terutama sekali juga anggota bawahan LLP. Ini juga menzahirkan semangat setiakawan dan kekitaan yang amat kuat sesama anggota askar. Syabas KJ. [HT]

Taking On The Army - Nut Graph



I’VE always wanted to join the army. I remember telling my parents as a teenager that I wanted to be a soldier. Maybe it was initially a boys-with-guns thing, or later, a higher calling to serve the nation. There are also generals in my extended family – one was Chief of the Armed Forces. That heightened the appeal.

But after diving into active politics shortly after graduating, my GI Joe dreams were put on the back burner. I settled with the thought that I would perhaps live my commando fantasies through my sons.




Then a few months ago, I met General Shahrom, Commander of the 508 Regiment of the Malaysian Territorial Army or Rejimen Askar Wataniah. He had heard of my interest and wanted to get me involved in his Negeri Sembilan-based regiment. The deal was to use my public-figure endorsement to attract more participation, especially from youths. I wouldn’t have to do much beyond visiting the camp’s recruits to instill them with semangat.



Huddling with the platoon (All pics courtesy of Khairy Jamaluddin)

In return, I would be bestowed an honorary commission, either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Major. I would receive an officer’s accompanying accoutrements, and be saluted by real but lower-ranking soldiers. Ours is a society obsessed with titles and ranks. Undoubtedly, an honorary military commission is another grace awarded to public figures who, mostly, don’t deserve it.




Not wanting to offend the commander, I asked, “Sir, if, God forbid, we were ever at war, would the army mobilise their honorary officers?” The answer was, of course, “No.” I then said, “In which case, I don’t deserve to wear the uniform that you’re offering me.” Instead, I asked the commander if I could join as an ordinary recruit and gradually move up the ranks like anyone else.




He said they had never had a sitting Member of Parliament (MP) join as an ordinary recruit, what more one with my “profile”. I convinced him there was a first time for everything.




And so, after General Shahrom convinced an initially skeptical army top-brass that an MP had agreed unequivocally to be treated like any other recruit, I joined the reservist army on 26 April 2010. I reported to the 508 Regiment headquarters in Rasah as 6210405 – my Yang Berhormat-less military number.




Broken down




During the next month, 87 of us were broken down daily through a series of physical and mental challenges. For regular recruits, basic training lasts six months. For reservists, this is condensed into four weeks. While we miss out on a fair bit, the intensity is multiplied because of the shorter period.




As with any military boot camp, the first week is all about the parade square. From dawn till sunset, we were put through marching-in-formation drills, where we learnt the most fundamental lessons about discipline and working as a unit. If just one person stepped out of line or got his or her sequence wrong, the entire squad had to repeat the drill or get down for 20 knuckle push-ups on the boiling tar.




Drill sergeants don’t care about the midday sun or one’s thick, suffocating army-issue camouflage and woolen beret. They keep going even though one by one, recruits fall like dominoes. Some genuinely fainted. Others simulated blackouts. For the record, I did neither. Our breaks were all of five minutes to dash to the cookhouse, where the only drink available was boiling water.



At the shooting range




Unsurprisingly, the first week saw the most dropouts. We lost around 10 recruits. One came back to camp a day after quitting. We later found out he returned because his army father gave him a beating worse than anything he would experience in the barracks.




After taking our stamina to the brink during the first week, classes on handling weapons, military tactics, and army laws and regulations were introduced. We were tested on everything. I hadn’t crammed for written exams in over a decade. Having to switch from extreme physical to mental exertion within just hours was annoying and challenging in equal measure.




Punishments were also generous. From the vomit-inducing side rolls across the parade square’s width, to more subtle but ultimately torturous penalties, we were made to pay for the slightest disciplinary breach. One night, we were subjected to the notorious “change parade”, where we had to run up and down from the square to our dorms to change outfits no less than seven times. The first two changes seemed fun. But on our seventh outfit – full battle dress unit camouflage – past midnight, the urge to just break ranks and quit was overwhelming.




Facing the odds




I also had the added misfortune of being, perhaps for the first time in recent memory, the oldest member of a group. Being 34 in politics is embryonic. As an army recruit its geriatric. The problem was not the training’s academic and tactical aspect, but the physical modules.

I had to keep up with largely 18-year-old kids at the prime of their growth spurts. In anticipation of being embarrassed by younger and fitter recruits, I trained beforehand and dropped 5kg. I would lose another five in camp.




By the time we entered our final week, which involved field exercises in the jungle, we were transforming into soldiers nicely. I no longer needed an alarm to wake up at 4:30am in order to be the first to use one of only four bathing cubicles. We became immune to mosquitoes and the absence of air-conditioning and iced beverages.




Everything up to that point was meant to prepare us for our field exercise. This exercise involved, among other fun and games: a 30km advance; digging a six-feet deep trench in the middle of the day; and carrying a 30kg backpack full of battle rations in addition to our M-16s, our surrogate spouses that we had with us at all times.



With Rajasekar, digging a trench




During the exercise, we were paired off with field buddies with whom we would share a trench or tent. I was paired with 19-year-old Rajasekar, a happy-go-lucky odd-job worker from Semenyih. By day, he was an ox with boundless energy. By night, his snores made it clear he wasn’t built for sentry duty. As is the case with relationships forged in challenging circumstances, we continue to be friends.




What matters




Raja also happened to be one of two non-Malay Malaysians in the entire recruit squad. I was told that the ethnic profile for recruits at other Wataniah regiments in other states were similarly mono-ethnic. This, to me, was the programme’s greatest missed opportunity. By not being able to attract more non-Malay Malaysians, the reservist programme is denied the opportunity to be an effective platform for national unity.




In the army, where one is deconstructed and trained to survive, it doesn’t matter what ethnicity the person in the trench with you is. What matters in battle is that you help each other live and defend your country.




On the day we passed out as Privates, I looked back at the month with obvious relief. No more drills and parades. No more forced marches and trench digging. No more memorising weapons specifications and cleaning a disassembled M-16. But I also looked back with satisfaction that a physical and mental threshold had been crossed.



More than the personal challenge that the army presents me, it is the fraternity borne of a rigorous, regimented environment and the sense of national service that excites all of us in the reserves. I now look forward to the next phase, whether the officers’ training or the airborne paratrooper course that I have applied to.




Still, I understand why Malaysia has no compulsory military service. Any attempt to build a public consensus to introduce it today would be near impossible. Besides, as attracted as I am to the virtues of military training, I still believe that the decision to enlist or volunteer is an extremely personal one.




Joining the reserves is clearly not for everyone. And I don’t mean that as a reflection on someone’s physical ability, mental resilience or patriotism. Those virtues, especially the last, can be manifested in many different and equally meaningful ways.




In the increasingly cynical world of postmodern Malaysian politics, honour is a diminishing virtue on both sides of the divide. In the army, honour – in particular, the soul-stirring honour of serving your nation – permeates in abundance. For me, that’s the only reason I need to keep reporting back as 6210405.



KJ



Source: Nut Graph