Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Let The Show Begin

Let it ... but...

What a circus.

The debate on 1MDB that's almost certain to take place between challenger DAP lawmaker Tony Pua and 1MDB president and group executive director ArulKanda Kandasamy has taken a new development, or twist.

Earlier today, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia issued an ultimatum to the government : stop the planned debate between Arul Kanda and Tony Pua or else he will resign. 

I suppose you can say the guy has a point.. but why now? A little too late.

In a follow-up to this, Tony Pua held a Press conference to say that he was willing to forgo the live debate because the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) probe "is more important."

And he will be seeking clarification from Pandikar Amin tomorrow on his statement.
"I cannot let the debate jeopardise PAC investigations into the matter. 
"As a PAC member and a responsible MP, I cannot let Arul be barred from being called as a witness, so if the ruling stands, I have to abide by it," he said.
Waah.. I tell you.. Since when has Tony and his DAP colleagues ever responded this way to any BN political leader?

Pussy-footing. What poppycock. Bunkum.

Trying to weasel your way out, eh, Tony?
Drama sandiwara and wayang-lah. And that's what I love (most times) about our politics... you just have to keep guessing - in all this intrigue - what's lakonan and what isn't.
All this had escaped Mr Pua, huh? Now only, all this hit him -- after Arul Kanda opened the way wide open for the debate to take place.
Pua challenged Arul. He accepted on condition that Pua resign as PAC member. Pua made one noise. So Arul immediately announced that he was dropping that condition, so let's debate.
And then today, Pandikar Amin issued that ultimatum. Don't know who is in a quandary now and who is having a picnic now..
As for Pandikar : as I have said he does have a point. 
Whatever. We have little choice as spectators and the rakyat but to lie back and watch the show before the show if the (big) show is ever to take place.
Here's Pandikar's statement made in Parliament today.

"If the government still goes ahead with the debate, I will not get involved.. I will resign as Speaker,
"What is the problem if PAC carries out its investigation and subsequently tables the report... can’t Malaysians wait until the investigation by PAC is done? 
"Petaling Jaya Utara (Pua) is also in PAC, and Arul also will be called up by PAC. Why the rush? Will the debate get a conclusive answer? 
"The answer is no. We also know that the investigation report by PAC on 1MDB will also be presented to the House Committee.

The NST reported that Pandikar had earlier told the House that parliament would not stop the debate between Arul and Pua, provided that Pua either resigns from PAC or excuses himself from PAC's 1MDB-related proceedings.
He said had that Arul should not be involved in the investigation and cited  Standing Order 23(1)(e) which states that members are not allowed to give statements without the consent of the House committee. 
Pandikar also reminded the House that the role of a PAC member is that of an investigator, not a prosecutor (in reference to Pua.)

"The planned debate on TV will give space to discuss the matter and is premature as the (1MDB) invesigation is still ongoing. 
"It will affect PAC and attract prejudice of the credibility of both parties (involved in the debate). 
"Furthermore, the tendency to accuse a person's character is not allowed by Standing Order 23(1)(0)." 

(source: The Star and NST)
(Pandika's quotes taken from NST online)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Traffic Deaths Preventable, WHO Says in Call For Road Safety

I am passionate about safety on the road and tough enforcement against reckless driving.
Here's an article I'd like to share. I need to point out that in terms of (most of the) best practices mentioned, Malaysia has been applying them. Imagine that the USA is named as a culprit.
Nevertheless, we need to move forward making our roads safe for everyone.
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA (Reuters) - Countries must introduce tougher laws to prevent drivers from speeding or drinking and help reduce the toll of 1.25 million people killed each year in traffic accidents, the World Health Organization said on Monday.
The United States, Indonesia and Nigeria are among countries failing to apply best practices, the WHO's Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015.
Car-makers can also play their part, a WHO expert said. Too often safety features are sacrificed in order to keep down car prices, Dr. Etienne Krug said.
"Better laws are needed on speed, drinking and driving, use of motorcycle helmets, seat belts and child restraints," WHO director-general Margaret Chan said, launching the report.
Halving the number of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2020 is among the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goals adopted last month by world leaders.
Cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians are particularly vulnerable, accounting for 49 percent of fatalities, it said.
Chan said that low and medium income countries accounted for 85 percent of road traffic deaths despite having 54 percent of the world's vehicles. Europe has the lowest death rates and Africa the highest.
Road safety measures include better safety features on vehicles, the report said.
"We are talking about some rather simple and basic things such as seat belts, such as front-impact regulations, such as electric stability control," Krug said.
"The vast majority of cars being produced around the world are still not up to the best safety standards. Very often in many places the safety of vehicles is sacrificed in order to have improvements in prices," he said.
Better trauma care for victims is also key, Krug said.
"And that does not necessarily need to be expensive. Very often the assumption is that we need more helicopters and very fancy ambulances.
"In fact, a very basic ambulance with minimum equipment and people who are trained in simple (life-saving) measures could do a lot of good."
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that city had cut traffic deaths to historic lows by making streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians, and it was possible to do that around the world.
"Traffic crashes are something like the ninth leading cause of death in the world. They are the number one cause of death for people aged 15-29," he said. "The fact is that every one of those deaths really is preventable."
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Increase Targeted Road Policing to Reduce Rising Deaths on theRoad, says RoSPA

This is an article from RoSpa dated Sept 29 2015

Although this is about road safety in Britain, Malaysian authorities response for road safety can pick up on some of the ideas. 

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) says more needs to be done to protect vulnerable road users after new figures reveal a rise in the number of deaths on Britain’s roads.
The family safety charity is advocating a range of solutions to drive down the number of deaths and life-changing injuries on Britain’s roads, including ensuring there are sufficient numbers of police targeting careless drivers who put themselves and others at risk.
Statistics released today by the Department for Transport show an increase in the number of people killed or seriously injured, in particular pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, last year (2014) compared to 2013.
RoSPA is concerned, as the figures show a  4 per cent rise in deaths to 1,775. Of particular concern is the number of vulnerable road users being killed or injured. Three-quarters of the increase in deaths were pedestrian casualties, meaning that last year one in four people killed on the road were pedestrians. There were also 16,727 child casualties in 2014 - up 6.2 per cent on the previous year.
Cyclists also still account for a disproportionately high number of casualties, with 113 killed in 2014. Worryingly, there was a huge rise in the number of cyclists being seriously injured, from 3,143 to a total of 3,401. This number has been increasing almost every year since 2004.
Motorcyclist deaths rose by 2 per cent from 331 in 2013 to 339 in 2014, and there was an increase of more than 400 who were seriously injured, taking the number to 5,628 in 2014, a rise of 9 per cent. Overall motorcyclist casualties increased from 18,752 to 20,366, an increase of 9 per cent.
There were almost 200,000 casualties last year on Britain’s roads - the first overall increase since 1997.
Traffic levels also rose by 2.4 per cent in 2014, which may account partly for the increase in deaths and injuries on our roads.
Nick Lloyd, road safety manager at RoSPA, said: “As our economy improves, we can expect traffic levels to continue to increase, so we must do everything we can to make sure this does not lead to even more increases in road crashes and casualties.
“The reductions in road death and injury in recent years will not automatically be sustained, without a continued commitment to road safety. We must remain focussed on making our roads safer for everyone, and especially for people travelling on foot and by two wheels.
“The number of pedestrian fatalities involving those over 60 has increased by 16 per cent, together with a 7 per cent increase in car occupants. With an aging population we must renew our efforts to reverse this phenomenon.
“It is estimated that between 240 and 340 people were killed in Great Britain when at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit. We must renew our efforts to highlight the dangers of drink driving.”
RoSPA advocates a comprehensive road strategy to help prevent deaths and life-changing injuries. Many of these will directly help to make urban driving safer, as that saw a 9 per cent increase in fatalities to 783. Measures would include:
  • Ensuring there are sufficient numbers of road police officers to properly enforce road safety laws, with more targeted road policing at the minority of drivers who put themselves and others at risk by speeding, drink driving and using mobile phones
  • A reduction in the drink-drive limit in England and Wales to 50mg per 100ml of blood, to match Scotland and most of Europe – in 2014, around 6.2 per cent of drivers said they had probably driven while over the current legal limit of 80mg
  • The introduction of a package of measures to reduce crashes involving young drivers, such as graduated driver licensing
  • Help for employers to reduce the risks their staff face and create when they drive or ride for work
  • Creation of a safe cycling environment and improvement of driver and cyclist attitudes and behaviour towards each other, to reduce cyclist casualties and help people who want to cycle, but are deterred from doing so because they think it is not safe enough
  • Introducing safer vehicles into our fleet as quickly as possible as vehicle technology improves
  • Adopting Single/Double Summer Time
Maximising the road safety benefits of telematics and similar technologies for young drivers, businesses and commercial drivers.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Manic Malaysians On The Road

I reproduce an article I did for my Saturday column in the New Straits Times in 2012. 

And why am I reproducing this? This could be an article I had just written today.
When I wrote this in 2012, accidents were still on high, Mat Rempits were king of the road after midnight , people were still going about "business as usual" on the road.

And today... business as usual despite experts having come out with recommendations and suggestions.

Malaysia continue to assume a reputation of having some of the most dangerous city and town roads. -NST  
Nuraina Samad

Sun, Apr 29, 2012
New Straits Times

When I obtained my driver's licence in 1974, the first thing my father did was to remind me to stay clear of motorcyclists on the road. Indeed, I feared knocking into any of them because as he would say, "You know, he could be the sole breadwinner of his family" or something to that dramatic effect.

I often held his advice close to my heart. Images of an injured motorcyclist sprawled on the road and his weeping family looking woefully at me would play in my mind. But heck, what did I know? I was just 17.

Then I, of course, wisened up. Over the years, I grew to be a bit hardened and a little less merciful to motorcyclists on the road. Steadily, most of them did not appear to be road users who deserved my undivided compassion.

Fast forward to 2012 and I still make sure I stay clear of motorcyclists. But that little reminder my father gave me has been somewhat obscured by the harsh reality on the road over the years.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam earlier this week disclosed that of the 59,897 accidents reported last year to the Social Security Organisation (Socso), 24,809 were people commuting to work daily, of whom most were motorcyclists.

These statistics represent only those reported to Socso which means that the figure could be higher because there are other victims outside Socso's radar. Besides, we all know there are many motorcyclists who do not have a licence and those who are underaged.

The report also found that 53 per cent of the victims were aged 35 and below which Dr Subramaniam lamented meant that Malaysia was "losing workers who were in their prime".

Dr Subramaniam also said that this had prompted the ministry to draw up a safety campaign to raise awareness and to reduce the number of incidents.

Clearly, this is all so worrying. But this is nothing new. Previous studies on accidents showed that motorcyclists formed the largest number of casualties.

I'm not sure what is deficient in enforcement of traffic violations because we get summonses for speeding, parking in non-designated areas, double-parking and other offences -- either from the police or local councils.

Yet every day, and this is no exaggeration, I am confronted with incomprehensible and dangerous traffic violations by motorcyclists. Every day. Beginning in the morning at the first set of traffic lights near my house in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.

Either Malaysians, at least Klang Valley denizens, are such a hardy, forgiving, tolerant and laid-back lot that they have accepted the shenanigans of motorcylists with a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" philosophy, or they simply go with the flow. Whatever it is, it is not going to help make the situation on the roads better.

We will not see the statistics on accidents easing up. Or have we forgotten that Malaysia has one of the highest numbers of road accidents in the world? Motorcyclists are the victims in accidents, yet most of them get away with murder on the road.

Let me just give a lowdown of the offences they commit everyday -- beating traffic lights, entering no-entry roads, making illegal u-turns in dangerous areas, speeding on any road, having defective tail-lights, not wearing helmets or carrying more than one pillion rider including children (especially in certain housing estates, Wangsa Maju and Setiawangsa come to mind) and the list goes on.

If scores of them have got away happily with these dangerous misdemeanours, then the message is clear to these serial offenders -- that it is okay to break these traffic laws. They don't apply to motorcyclists.

Malaysians shouldn't be blasé about this state of affairs. I know I am not. I honk at these inconsiderate and dangerous road users all the time.

Most of us who have travelled to countries where road users faithfully abide by traffic rules enjoy and appreciate the civility and safety on the road.

Surely among us are policymakers. Yet, we continue to assume a reputation of having some of the most dangerous city and town roads.

Have road safety awareness campaigns helped us in inculcating better habits on the road? Your guess is as good as mine.

I echo the sentiments of road safety advocates that enforcement needs to be stepped up and continually carried out. There should be no compromise.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Driving in the USA: Ikut Kiri, Ikut Kiri

This would be my second time driving a car in the US - in California to be precise.

Just like when I was in Canada for three visits. In Ontario, to be precise.

It is left-hand drive in both countries, in case you didn't know.

To be honest, it had been and is pleasant driving in both places - in Fullerton-Anaheim-Placentia (Orange County, Southern California) and in Toronto-Kitchener-Mississauga-Waterloo (Ontario) because basically motorists are not crazy, demented or/and mad. Particularly in Ontario.

In Mississauga back in 2010 when I first visited my son, Adel - I was honked at only once for blocking a lane I should not have been in. But ever so lightly honked.

In Anaheim in January this year, in an Asian neighbourhood - a motorist honked at me because I was driving a little too slow on a fast lane.
Yep, forgot the fast and slow lanes here are in reverse. But heck -- that happens in Asian neighbourhoods. Asians! Sheesh -- what do you expect?

And yesterday when returning back from Farina's place - at the traffic lights as I was making a turn. That was and is still puzzling. Was I driving too slowly? Perhaps.  Still -- just a single light honk. Not the rabid crazy Malaysian honk.

It is funny but I am quite nervous driving here and in Ontario because (generally) people are just so civil.

So used to the madness in KL? Perhaps...

Here, I worry - am I driving too fast? Am I turning too quickly into the next lane? Am I stopping too abruptly?

And the most recurring habit -- driving too far right in the lane. Something that spooks both Adel in Canada and Farina, here in Orange County, Southern California.
"Mummy, mummy ... you are too far right.. ", Adel used to say to me back when I was driving us around in Ontario. He was more nervous than me.  Then , I got nervous.

Here, hardly five minutes in the car and on the road, Farina said "ikut kiri ikut kiri, Kak Ena". I thought , at first, that she meant for me to keep to the left lane because i needed to make a left turn.

Then...aah. I was too far right.

I have until the end of the month to remember to "ikut kiri".

And if I forget, this will be the song with only two words that either Farina or Shaira will be singing to me as we cruise around the neighbourhoods of Fullerton and Anaheim or the Santa Ana freeway -

"Ikut kiri ikut kiri ikut kiri" ...

Remember, remember.

And Now It's 4...

Finally.... that moment came.  The Ringgit breached the RM4 mark against the USD, trading at RM4.02 yesterday.

I would usually react rather insipidly because firstly I'd be at home and spending in Ringgit and no reason to be needing to convert currencies and secondly, this came as no surprise.

This time, though, it is different because I am now in the US with my daughter who is studying here. I am concerned. Worried over what is to follow.

Early this year when my daughter came here to continue her American degree program at California State University, the exchange rate was hovering around RM3.81-82 to the USD.

Before I left on Aug 10, it was 3.86.

Sure, this will hit me as a parent with a daughter in the US.

But I have to say that I am a little fortunate because I actually was prepared for this.

Last year when preparing my daughter's departure to the US, I opened a foreign currency (USD) account back home so that any fluctuation in rates will not affect me. Yes, thank God, I did that.

Nevertheless, the concern is real.

But, we've been through this before. Thankfully, our prime minister then , Datuk Seri (now Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad handled it brilliantly, confounding all and sundry by imposing capital control and we not only survived but overcame it all.

We could have gone the Indonesian way if we had submitted to the IMF.

Most Malaysians who experienced that will never forget those trying times.

I do feel for those who are supporting their children's studies in the US. It will hit them, if it has not already.

I remember years ago when the exchange rate between the Ringgit and Pound Sterling began to make a sharp increase, some parents were forced to end their children's studies in Britain. Their kids had to return home.

I can only pray that we will overcome - yet again another trial and tribulation. How, I don't know -- I am no economist. But I was not born yesterday. Isn't this a cycle? Malaysia is not alone. So whether global  forces will come together to bring stability back or for our prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to come up with  a brilliant plan -- time will tell. Let's hope it will be soon.

We will see ...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sacking Muhyiddin as DPM - It's According to the Script

For many people, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's removal as DPM was not a surprise.

He had it coming, some party loyalists remarked.

Did he really?

Others, on the other side of the fence,  felt that Muhyiddin was just saying it as it is.

And  there were others who thought it was just a show because, for heaven's sake, Muhyiddin would never do Najib in.

Muhyiddin's remarks when officiating the Cheras Umno division meeting Sunday night had been met with shock, ire, despair, relief, excitement, encouragement from people - depending on where you stand in all this 1MDB- PM saga.

It created a raging buzz in and out of social media and cyberspace.
If you had been following all this -- and if you didn't, two things; either you are just so fed up or you are living in a cave - you'd know that it gets more murky and baffling and how much more,  remains to be seen

After Muhyiddin's remarks were made so public, people were all speculating that  he'd be sacked.

Because 1) it showed that he is not with the PM on all this and was only making things worse for the PM and 2) man, has he got balls to say all those things.

Of course, going by convention, decency and all that - Muhyiddin should not have said all that - according to some party loyalists.

They say that Muhydidin, of all people,  the number 2, should not feign ignorance, a confused mind, lack of understanding. It was bad enough that former PM and party president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad led the chorus of fierce attacks against Najib and now his own deputy.
That is the job of the opposition.

Read Dr MiM's HERE

But really,  if you followed what he said, he did not say anything damning. If he was not able to to understand the 1MDB controversy, well, that is really his problem.

He mentioned Deputy Finance Minister 2 Datuk Husni Hanadzlah and Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan having explained the issue to their colleagues but had still left him in the dark. Which is odd because Rahman, it seems, did a good job of explaining it.

Meanwhile, Tan Sri Gani Patail has had his services terminated on health grounds effective yesterday. He is replaced by federal court judge Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali.

Asked to confirm this, Gani said he did not resign but "they terminated" his services.
Gani is leading the task force investigating allegations against 1MDB. It looks like he no longer is.

Others in the team are Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Zeti Aziz, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed.

Now, this is all going to be an explosive subject for speculation.

Gani has about 2 months more before retirement, I believe. So the questions people are asking -- why -- does Gani know something and about to do something? Is he really not well? And, of course, the task force is now under scrutiny.

Gani, it seems, needs dialysis treatment but is not a diabetic.

Meanwhile PM Najib explains the reason for dropping Muhyiddin which he said was a tough decision for him but he needed the Cabinet to be united.

I can accept difference of opinion but as a cabinet member one cannot do it in a public forum as it can create public misconception. This also affect the concept of collective responsibility,” he said when announcing the new Cabinet line-up here on Tuesday. 
Najib added that the reshuffle was also to strengthen the lineup before the 14th general election.
He said the decision to go ahead with the reshuffle took into account the political scenario and was in the best interest of the administration.
“This ensures that my administration remains committed and focused on development as promised by the Barisan Nasional government in the last general election,” he said in his speech.
He added that the Cabinet should act as a team under all circumstances. - The Star

Umno vice-president and Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi replaces Muhyiddin as DPM. Muhyiddin who also lost his Education portfolio is replaced by Datuk Seri Mahadhir Khalid.

Muhyiddin, in an immediate response to his sacking, said he accepted the PM's decision to drop him from the Cabinet and thanked him for the opportunity to serve the government. He also said he will remain loyal to Umno.

"Kecuali dalam isu 1MDB, saya mempunyai prinsip dan pendirian saya sendiri dalam mempertahankan hak rakyat, namai baik parti dan kepentingan negara. Jika kerana pendirian saya dalam isu ini menyebabkan saya digugurkan daripada kabinet maka saya redha.

Saya akan sentiasa setia kepada perjuangan UMNO. Sebagai Timbalan Presiden UMNO, saya akan terus melaksanakan amanah yang telah dipertanggungjawabkan kepada saya dan mencurahkan khidmat bakti saya demi memperkukuhkan parti serta mengembalikan keyakinan orang Melayu dan rakyat kepada UMNO.
Kepada Allah saya berserah."

From now, my friends, it's Que Sera Sera. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Salam Aidilfitri

Let me wish everyone a blessed Hari Raya. Hope for a lot of positivity this Aidilfitri. A silver lining, perhaps.

For those heading back to kampung, have a safe journey. Berjaga-jaga di jalan raya. Malang tak berbau, you know.

And those here in the Klang Valley -- stay safe.

Above all -- have a glorious celebration.

The significant of Eid

A Confession - Lester Melanyi's

Here's the first part of the video of Lester Melanyi - former editor of Sarawak Report - confessing to the bad things SR had been doing.

This has got to do with forged documents about 1MDB and PM Najib Razak.

Check it HERE at Rockys Bru.

I don't want to go into details except that I find SR rather jahat. When your objective is to bring down a government by spreading a lot of lies, you mut be ..well ..what can I say without being rude.

YOU don't have to believe him, that 's your right.

I would keep an open mind.