Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Malaysia Remains A Competitive World Economic Player

Still  not good enough, eh?

KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 2016 : Malaysia maintained its top 20 position among 61 global economies in the World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) 2016 published by the World Competitiveness Centre of the Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland.
However, the country fell five spots to 19th from 14th last year, due to the fall in commodity prices, a strong dollar and the deterioration of balance sheet in both the private and public sectors, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed in a statement.
The rankings were assessed for 61 countries this year as compared to 60 last year. The top 20 countries were:
1) Hong Kong (100.00)
2) Switzerland (98.02)
3) USA (97.88)
4) Singapore (97.65)
5) Sweden (92.35)
6) Denmark (91.76)
7) Ireland (91.54)
8) Netherlands (91.32)
9) Norway (90.05)
10)Canada (90.05)
11)Luxembourg (90.02)
12)Germany (88.57)
13)Qatar (86.72)
14)Taiwan (86.37)
15)UAE (86.07)
16)New Zealand (85.61)
17)Australia (84.27)
18)United Kingdom (83.34)
19)Malaysia (83.05)
20)Finland (82.04)
Read more HERE

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Sabotage in Malaysian Immigration System (myIMMs)

I think this problem  is bigger than presented in the Auditor-General's Report .

And it stinks.

PUTRAJAYA (May 24 2016) : A taskforce has been formed to probe into a possible element of sabotage in the enforcement of the Malaysian Immigration System (myIMMs). 

Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Alwi Ibrahim said he will be personally leading the investigation, adding that the authorities are in the midst of gathering evidence including relevant documents. 

He was speaking after the townhall session on the 1st series of the Auditor-General's 2015 Report today.

 Immigration director-general Datuk Sakib Kusmi said investigations were being conducted to determine the reasons for the weaknesses in the enforcement of the myIMMs. 

"We are carrying out investigations to determine those who are involved. We believe not only Immigration officers but also outsiders including vendors and foreigners were involved," he told reporters.

 Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had on Monday said the government believed that the enforcement of the myIMMs had been sabotaged. 

Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said, several names had been identified and would be announced by him and the police. 

The Auditor-General's Report 2015 Series 1 on May 18 stated that the myIMMs, developed to support the main operation of the Immigration Department, was unsatisfactory and had affected the department’s objective. 

The report said the myIMMs biometric facility worth RM10.3 million was paid and supplied for, but was neither installed nor used at the entrance gates to screen and identify foreigners as well as Malaysians. -NST

Thursday, April 28, 2016

"I never admitted there was fraud": Arul Kanda

1MDB president & group executive director Arul Kanda has issued a statement to clarify an earlier statement he made a few days ago.
"I refer to various commentary on my recent statements regarding the possibility of fraud in relation to 1MDB. In particular, I must clarify that I had never “admitted there was fraud” as has been mistakenly alleged by variouspersonalities and subsequently wrongly reported by certain media. What I did say is that, given the content of the 12 April 2016 statement by the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, 1MDB must now be open to the possibility of fraud, i.e. that it cannot be discounted. It is regrettable that various personalities have chosen to “spin” my words to further their own agendas.
What is more important, in my view, is 1MDB’s firm contention on the USD3.5 billion deposits paid to Aabar BVI. 1MDB maintains that it dealt with senior executives, hence these transactions bind IPIC and Aabar PJS as corporates - bluntly put, it is an internal matter for them to resolve. 1MDB will not shy away, and looks forward to resolving this dispute with IPIC through discussion and if necessary, arbitration, in order to ensure an expeditious resolution, in the interests of all stakeholders.
In the meantime, 1MDB will continue to extend full cooperation to the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) in its ongoing investigations into the company. 1MDB has always maintained, and continues to maintain, that if any evidence of wrongdoing is found, then action must be taken, according to the law.”
- Arul Kanda, 1MDB President and Group Executive Director
This is from HERE
He issued this clarification because of reports like this.
Presiden dan Pengarah Eksekutif Kumpulan 1MDB, Arul Kanda Kandasamy mengulangi kemungkinan berlaku ‘penipuan besar-besaran’ dan ‘kerjasama dari pihak dalaman’ berhubung pembayaran lebih AS$3.5 bilion yang dibuat kepada firma Aabar ‘palsu’ di Kepulauan Beritish Virgin (BVI).
"Kita tidak tolak bahawa sebenarnya berlaku penipuan... penipuan besar-besaran... dan mungkin ada kerjasama dari pihak kami," kata Arul Kanda ketika ditemu-bual oleh The Edge Financial Weekly.
Syarikat International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) yang berpangkalan di Abu Dhabi dan anak syarikatnya, Aabar Investments PJS baru-baru ini mengisytiharkan bahawa mereka tidak mempunyai sebarang kaitan dengan firma syarikat yang diperbadankan di BVI dengan nama Aabar Investments PJS Limited (Aabar BVI).
Jawatankuasa Kira-kira Wang Negara (PAC) dalam laporannya mengenai 1MDB juga berkata tidak ada bukti bahawa Aabar BVI yang dinamakan sebagai Aabar Ltd dalam laporannya, mempunyai hubungan dengan IPIC atau Aabar Investment PJS.
1MDB membayar RM4.24 bilion (kira-kira AS$1.367 bilion) kepada Aabar BVI sebagai deposit keselamatan pada tahun 2012, tanpa kelulusan lembaga 1MDB pengarah.
Dalam temu bual itu, Arul Kanda juga bercakap mengenai keinginannya untuk bersara dari 1MDB dan bahawa isu di dana itu bukan isu mengenai dirinya. -Malaysiakini (BM)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Happy Earth Day

Today is April 22.
In case you didn't know, it is Earth Day.

Okay,  shoot me for laying off blogging for a bit.

Now, before you pick up that gun of yours, hear me out.

I have a good reason - lil ole me had no heart to say the truth. Nothing but the truth.
These fingers were really so itching to rant and rave about what's going on -- this "shameless power struggle " - in Malaysia  as fellow blogger Anak Si Hamid so aptly puts it.

Yeah, the fingers were itching to smack the keyboard.

So, today I decided that it would be a good day to restart my engine.

Earth Day seems to be a good topic to resume with.
Yes. I want to talk about Earth Day because I have this seething unadulterated raw contempt for greedy developers and corrupt government officials.
Their unholy alliance to strip and rape earth's bounty.

Yeah. who doesn't have contempt for them?
 If I had superpowers, superhuman powers, megapowers, I'd zap them all from the face of this good earth.
They are scums of the earth.

About Earth Day.

Do you know how it all began?

From Earth Day Network:

Each year, Earth Day—April 22—marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.
The height of counterculture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” War raged in Vietnam and students nationwide overwhelmingly opposed it.
At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.
Although mainstream America largely remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962.  The book represented a watershed moment, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries, and beginning to raise public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and links between pollution and public health.
Earth Day 1970 gave voice to that emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns on the front page. 
 See more HERE
Politics does demonic things to otherwise good people, at worst. At the very least, politicians have memory lapses. Kinda selective amnesia. 
I'd expect our wakil rakyat to fight against overdevelopment or rampant overdevelopment of urban areas and hillsides and so on.
But no... greedy developers are happily destroying our cities and countryside .
You see buildings upon buildings of apartments, condominiums and office lots mushrooming or wantonly constructed not only in cities but in urban neighbourhoods.
Tell me -- what good has building them done for the people and to the country, the economy.
Has that generated employment, improved the economy, stabilised property prices?
I did say "wantonly". 
What all this has done is really to enrich greedy developers and corrupt government officials.
And the wanton rape of hillsides and greenery in urban and the countryside.
I am pointing my finger at you -- you greedy developers and corrupt government officers/officials.
Enough said.

Happy Green Day. I mean, Earth Day.

Friday, December 11, 2015

ETS stands for Electric Train Service

..in case you didn't know.

I have been toying seriously with the idea of travelling up to Ipoh on the ETS because I've been told it takes only 2 hours and 30 minutes from the KL station to the Ipoh train station.

How cool is that?

I am an avid train traveller, if you must know. Been travelling on the train since I was a kid as I was born in Singapore and after my family and I moved to Malaya in 1959, we would travel back to our kampung in Singapore by train during the school term holidays when my father was not able to drive us down.  During my teen years, we would travel on our own by train to visit our relatives in the island republic.

Overseas as a student and later for work and private visits, I'd make a point of travelling by train.

So really, I like train rides.

When the Kelana Jaya-Gombak LRT line began operation in September 1998, I was a regular Sunday commuter together with my children, nieces and nephews just for a funtime from Kelana Jaya to KLCC.

I wanted them to be familiar with train rides for one day they might just need to use it on a regular basis.
By the way, the Kelana Jaya-Gombak line that serves the Petaling Jaya South region - central KL is 29 km in length. It  is the fourth longest fully automated driverless metro system in the world, after Dubai Metro in Dubai(74.6 km), the SkyTrain in Greater VancouverCanada (68.7 km) and the Lille Metro VAL in LilleFrance (32 km).

Back to the our new ETS train service from KL to Butterworth and Padang Besar that has been in operation for quite some time this year.

I have read blogposts by people who have been on the KL-Ipoh service and they enjoyed it.  Mostly great reviews. Very appealing, this idea of an ETS ride.

After all , the ETS Class 93 high speed train service is dubbed the Malaysian 'Bullet Train'.

According to official data, Malaysia's first ETS train from Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh began operations on Aug 12, 2010. The first South Korean made trains can travel at speeds of 160km per hour and take only two hours to reach Ipoh making train travel much faster. This time around, the Chinese made ETS Train KL to Butterworth and Padang Besar will only take less than 5 hours. 

The fares, of course,  are pricier than those of regular KTMB commuter but then, you'll be paying for a service that's way faster. The fastest, in fact. 

For fares and schedule, check HERE  

also HERE
Where to go :
Kuala Lumpur Railway station (and ETS HQ) – Main Lobby – +6032272-3392
Kuala Lumpur Sentral – Level 2 – +603 2272 3392
Ipoh Railway Station – Main Lobby – +605 254 0481
The On-board Facilities:
  • Cafe Car and trolley service
  • LED televisions at both ends of each carriage
  • Disabled friendly toilets and priority seating for OKU
  • Interior CCTV system for all coaches
  • Power socket (one for each seat row of 2 passengers)
Looks like it will not be long before I try it out.

Here's from Tripadvisor.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Embattled Najib Faces Umno

It is that time of the year again when Umno holds its general assembly at the Putra World Trade Centre.
Every year cynics will dismiss the assembly to be yet another unproductive sessions of grumbles, grouses and growls.  Same old same old.

Yet, every year, there is something new. Or an expansion of what has happened since the last session.

Just look at what has happened over the past year.
To say that Umno is under siege is an understatement. This party has been that in the last two decades (and longer).

To say that the position of party president Najib Razak is shaky is so mild. But nothing unusual because his predecessor Abdullah Badawi had been in an almost similar position but different circumstances.

Former PM and Umno president Dr Mahathir was up against rebelling and dissident deputies and colleagues during his time - Musa Hitam, Tengku Razaleigh and Anwar Ibrahim.

Najib is faced with attacks no less vile and malicious than Dr Mahathir when he held the reign. Reformasi was raised from the wave of discontent and dissatisfaction during Dr Mahathir's  premiership. That is history.

Najib is embattled. He is attacked by his former boss and former deputy. He has been dragged through the mud by Umno members themselves.

So now, he faces his party and the taikos and the makcik2, pemuda2 and puteri2.

Let's hear them

Interesting to follow the goings-on.

Yes -- another session. Detractors and critics will continue to vilify or mock the assembly dismissing them as a circus full of clowns.

I have my own criticisms but I wouldn't go so far as to say that. It is always so easy to do that -- you know, being all so intellectual and high-and-mighty and arrogant and all that.

I've been critical of Umno leaders -- in open discussions and writings - since my NST days. I've always believed that you deserve the leaders you get.

I am from the outside looking in. Thank God for that.

One thing for sure -- Umno has to evolve and be realistic of the new Malaysia that we are living in.

Meanwhile -- selamat bersidang.

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)