Archive for February, 2010

26
Feb
10

“Off the record” embarassment to Malaysia

Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Anifah Aman should give an assurance that the government would stop waste of public funds which end up in greater national embarrassments like the “strangest” cloak-and-dagger Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) seminar “Governance and Rule of Law in Malaysia” featuring the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz in Washington yesterday.

I agree with the former United States Ambassador to Malaysia John R Mallot who had described the seminar as the “strangest” he had attended in Washington DC.

Continue reading ‘“Off the record” embarassment to Malaysia’

26
Feb
10

Speak out for Anwar Ibrahim’s sake

Anwar Ibrahim is a former deputy prime minister of Malaysia. After having differences of opinion with prime minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1998, he was removed from office, charged with sodomy and corruption – charges condemned worldwide as an attempt to remove him from politics – and imprisoned for six years. After his release in 2004, he became the leader of a coalition of opposition parties that is successfully challenging the ruling coalition’s power. Mr. Anwar has now been charged again with sodomy, a charge that has again been condemned worldwide.

Continue reading ‘Speak out for Anwar Ibrahim’s sake’

23
Feb
10

Outdated political thuggery embarrasses Malaysia

In Malaysia, Mahathir was never as subtle or as smooth as Lee. But Mahathir was still a smart autocrat who kept control through his puppetry of the judicial system. The pivotal moment was in 1988 when Mahathir complained that the courts were “too independent”.

He purged the chief judicial officer, the Lord President, and suspended the five chief justices of the Supreme Court. The court system has never given any further trouble to the Barisan Nasional, or National Front, since. Together with its predecessor, the BN has ruled Malaysia continuously for 54 years.

It’s infinitely smarter to use legal instruments to purge judges than to use guns against protesters. A judicial massacre makes lousy TV. You won’t see one live on CNN. So it remains hidden from international view. Yet it can be every bit as repressive. So when Mahathir faced a power struggle in 1998 with his deputy prime minister and heir apparent, the charismatic Anwar Ibrahim, he naturally turned to the courts to purge his younger rival.

In a blatantly political fix-up, he had Anwar arrested and charged with sodomy, a shocking crime in a predominantly conservative Muslim country. Even today it carries a maximum penalty of 20 years’ jail. The police Special Branch concocted evidence and coerced witnesses. Anwar emerged from his police cell to appear in court with a bruised face, inflicted, it was later learnt, when the chief of police beat him.

Continue reading ‘Outdated political thuggery embarrasses Malaysia’

22
Feb
10

Oil royalty ads imply gross deceitfulness

I see the Ministry of Information has taken out full page advertisements in the major Malay newspapers to argue that Kelantan has no right to oil payments under the Petroleum Development Act because the oil resources in question lie outside the 3 nautical mile limit that delimits state versus federal jurisdictions. The advertisement fails to point out that almost all the oil found in Malaysia is located more than 3 nautical miles offshore, and Petronas has nevertheless been making oil payments to the states.

By the argument deployed in the advertisement, Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak too are not entitled to the “cash payments” of 5% of profit oil (commonly and a little inaccurately referred to as “oil royalties”). Everything is at the arbitrary behest of the Federal Government.

Yet last year, according to its annual report, Petronas paid out RM6.2 Billion in petroleum cash payments, with RM 3Billion to Terengganu, 2.3Billion to Sarawak and 0.9Billion to Sabah. One wonders what basis this payment was made on since none of this was for petroleum found within 3 nautical miles offshore of these states. The argument for depriving Kelantan of 5% cash payments on the basis of its petroleum resources being found beyond 3 nautical miles is an insult to the intelligence.

I have spoken and written at length on this issue and had been reluctant to say more on it. Moreover, as a member of the ruling party I am embarrassed to have to belabour elementary points against the government. This information campaign, whether through a leaflet campaign in the schools or through newspaper advertisements paid for with taxpayer money, implies either culpable stupidity or gross deceitfulness on the part of agents of the Federal Government. I had hoped to avoid that implication.

Continue reading ‘Oil royalty ads imply gross deceitfulness’

22
Feb
10

Why MPs protested over the Anwar trial – Michael Danby

Why should Australian Members of Parliament stick their noses into the affairs of a country like Malaysia, which is a friend and neighbour? I would say it is precisely because Malaysia is a friend and neighbour that we care what happens there. No-one is surprised at show trials and political persecution in North Korea or Burma. When it happens in a country which is one of our region’s relative success stories, we are shocked and dismayed.

Many Australian’s have spoken for Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s democratically elected leader under house arrest by an authoritarian regime. In some sense these legal torments of Anwar are more egregious as they are happening in a developing democracy that says organs of the state such as the courts or police should not be used to persecute a democratic political opponent.

People-to-people contact between Australians and Malaysians has become very close in recent years, through students studying in Australia, steadily growing tourism in both directions and growing business ties. The persecution of Anwar Ibrahim, however, does not put Malaysia in a good light.

Continue reading ‘Why MPs protested over the Anwar trial – Michael Danby’

20
Feb
10

Federal Arrogance

Federal Arrogance
February 20, 2010 – Straight Talk

Kelantan Umno chief Mustapa Mohamed last night insisted the state is only entitled to compassionate payments rather than oil royalty demanded by its PAS government for energy extracted miles off its coast.

This statement coming from one of the more moderate voices in UMNO reflects the arrogance of federal government. This is another example of encroaching and overarching federal power over states. The answer is more decentralisation from the central government.

Interestingly, Mustapa’s statement contains two major socio-political and moral flaws. First, almost all tax revenues go directly to the federal coffer. It is almost impossible for the states to initiate their own development programmes. Development projects are mostly led and sponsored by the federal government.

Second, there is no federal government without a collection of states agreeing to form a federation. Hence, it is morally and politically wrong to term the oil royalty payment to Kelantan as a compassionate payment. It is morally demeaning that residents of Kelantan need to be treated this way by the federal government.

Mustapa argues that the 2005 oil discovery falls beyond the 3 nautical miles stipulated in the 1974 Petroleum Act and agreement between the state government and Petronas. Hence, the state is not qualified to ask for any royalty. This is a warp logic which depends on a legal interpretation of the contract. Legally, I do not know if Mustapa is right. But it is wrong in the spirit of the federation and national building.

This points to the next question; what has the federal government done to the oil revenue if it does not intend to share it with the states?

If Kelantan’s compassionate payments are not related to the oil royalty, why other states especially the poorer ones e.g. Kedah, Perlis, Pahang and others are not entitled to the same payments?

Mustapa is trying to imply that only BN ruled states deserved to be treated with dignity. Others are subjected to the compassion of the federal government.

…read more (Straight Talk)

20
Feb
10

More dams in Sarawak?

Bakun dam is scheduled to be fully powered up with 2,400MW by October 2010; the submarine cables, if it happens as planned, are expected to be built by 2017.

Meanwhile, another hydro project, the 900MW Murum dam, is expected be completed by 2013.

Which begs the question – between 2010 and 2013, how will Bakun’s excess capacity be utilised? Meanwhile, more rivers are expected to be dammed up. Over the week, Sarawak Energy Bhd said it plans to build five more hydro electric dams with a combined power capacity of over 3,000 MW. That’s a whole lot of power.

So far, two aluminium smelters are being planned in the state.

Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary’s GIIG Holdings has tied up with Aluminium Corp of China Ltd (Chalco) which is reported will need 600MW and Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd’s joint venture with Rio Tinto Alcan will require between 900MW and 1,200MW of electricity. Collectively, that adds up to 1,800MW. Granted, these projects are expected to be phased out.

Even so, is the state being a little overzealous in powering up, you think?

What’s the business case of building more dams which could eventually lead to excess capacity of power no one really wants or needs? What then? Woo more energy-intensive industries like aluminium smelters into the state? How does this gel with the Government’s national agenda of cranking up knowledge-based industries to raise the bar on human capital in the country?

The peninsula will need to tap power from the state eventually. But as it is now, the reserve margin stands at 50%, which in itself ought to be worrying although no one has yet to wave the red flag.

Reserve margin measures capacity left over after meeting peak demand.

Typically, a margin of 10%-20% is adequate to ensure stable supply. For TNB, the higher the reserve margin, the harder to stomach as it still needs to pay Independent Power Producers capacity charges.

Continue reading ‘More dams in Sarawak?’




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How the 1MDB Scandal Spread Across the World (WSJ)
We cannot afford ridiculously expensive RM55 Billion ECRL!
All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
Do you hear the people sing?

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