A meaningless Merdeka


This Merdeka is a meaningless Merdeka for the nation as it entrenches itself into old political mindsets. A meaningless Merdeka …mysinchew.sinchew.com.my

By Prof Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi

After 21 years of writing ideas, criticisms and advice for Malaysians, Malays and those in power in academic, religious and political institutions, I have no more to give. Malaysia is on a certain road of destruction with the Malay Muslims driving it to the ground. I have looked hard and deep into many other ways than I have mentioned and I have no more ideas to bring to the table.

This is the most difficult article to write for me and I have thought many times to just call up Sin Chew and refuse a requested writing for the first time in my entire career as an academic. I see no more hope for this country. The Malays will eventually destroy itself and others with it. The only hope for the idea of a Malaysia lies in the nations of Sabah and Sarawak. If these two quit the partnership, then the idea of Malaysia is just a joke. If I were younger by three decades, I would take my family outside this country and resettle in others or at least in neighboring Singapore and the nations of Sabah and Sarawak. At least they still have teh tarik there.

With muftis sounding like gangsters in a terrible movie plot and unchecked by their patrons, the Malays will continue to be educated in that manner. With veteran Malay politicians and businessmen helming the fate of the country, the Old Malaysia has just been given a new lease of life by a heart-bypass. With academia still counting their H-indexes and SCOPUS papers, these institutions of learning will continue to be irrelevant entities to social and political development getting fat by the tax payers money and their own sense of self grandeur. Religion, academia and politics of the Malays are safely entrenched to bring the country to a precipice of oblivion.

The editors of this article wants to know from me what can be changed? Well, I no longer have any more ideas except to say…save yourself and your family by hunkering down, tightening the stomach and strategically plan for the children to be placed outside this country.

I have now begun to seriously think about such a strategy for two of my children. There is nothing here in Malaysia that would be anything of a dignified existence of a person.

When a mufti with extremely low knowledge on the history of the Indian people can make simplistic and racist statements about them, and get away without any reprimand or reminder from his patrons, then the game is ended. When he calls on hardworking and dedicated groups of Chinese educationist to be outlawed without measuring their six decades of contribution, what dignity is there left? Worse, when a peddler of religious capitalism comes to this country blaring insults not only to other religions but also the presence of our own community of generations of people, ministers have dinner with him with smiling photo ops. Susah-lah ini macam.

Then there is a political party with Islam as its name spew venoms of Islamic brotherhood being more important than citizenry and that those who oppose the peddler of religious evangelism from another country as enemies of Islam, and the police sits quietly without any reaction. Apa lagi nak cerita?

I have trained myself to be an expert at identifying success and failure in everything I do. I can also expertly predict success and failure in some things others do. I can definitely say that Malaysia is a failure. It was failing badly before May 9th 2018, it has failed even worse after merely over a year.

In the beginning, this failure was caused by a reluctance of the Malay voters to change. Then, this failure was fueled by the marriage of the two discredited Malay parties. Now, the trust of the people has been totally betrayed by the smallest and least ideological party which happens to helm the leadership and is engineering a 1990s come-back formula.

Unless a miracle happens, Malaysia will be the first country to be listed as the ‘fourth world’ of a three world category. We will go nowhere, be no ‘thing’ and simply become stuck to the ground with our old ideas about economy, education, religion and having no sense of dignity to others and the world. When one day, Muslims will be rejected entry into most countries of the world as with their favorite penceramah, then the old Malay proverb of sudah jatuh ditimpa tangga or sudah jatuh baru tertenggadah becomes a stark reality.

What is this miracle that may reignite the fires of Malaysia? Only three things. First, by a stroke of miracle, the civil society restrategize itself with other existing political parties and puts up 70 independent candidates to oust the cancerous elements in PH and combine with the dignified parties of Sarawak and Sabah, then there may be a chance.

How hard is it to find 70 credible candidates of all races dedicated to nation building? The names are already on my computer list. The civil society, good and nation-conscious NGOs can work together with the grassroots of rejuvenated veteran parties that lost their shorts in the last election. Those civil leaders appointed by the PH must return to the fold when the time of GE15 draws closer.

The second miracle would be 100,000 Malay children and more to come out of their UEC education and these children must be tracked and given support so that they can be the savior of a nation from the old bigotry of Muslims and Malays in the public schools.

That is why Malay political parties despise the UEC as the new Malays who are trilingual and globalized networked with China and the West will reformulate new national constructs based on their times with the other communities in the UEC schools.

Regardless of whether the PH government will recognize or not, I see the UEC as the only savior of this nation. The sons and daughters rejected by the majority of their own race will come back to revive the idea of Malaysia and thus, we Malaysians must ensure that the UEC survives and thrive.

Those of our sons and daughters educated in the international schools with international curriculum would be the other force that can cure an ailing nation, and that too must be protected and expanded so that it becomes affordable to send our children too. Leave the public schools entrenched in its own issues and problems.

The third miracle would be the private education tertiary institutions. These institutions have gone through the economic gauntlet and is now secure with a mixed group of academics to lead the nation where public universities fail in their own ethno-centric constructs of self-delusion and irrelevant academia. If these private universities can wake up to fill the minds of young Malaysians with the right mind set and ideas to lead the future, than the future can be theirs for the taking.

Private universities must get out of their balance sheet mindset and show that they can take over what was left out by the big brother universities and strike out on their own. The private university academics can form their own Professor Council and produce strategies for real impactful research and ideas that can move Malaysia 50 years into the future and pool its student talents to research and recharge industries linking the world. The future industries are in a mapless world and do not require a Malay Majlis Perbandaran to give the okay to start a factory. The new ‘factories’ are in cyberspace and offshore. Countries will work with these students who do not display any sense of ethnic or religious superiority complex and shun those that do. The world belongs to the private enterprise as government fails to change because of Old Politics.

The third miracle would be the pooling of resources by private companies and enterprises across a maples world to provide financial and infra-structure backings to clear thinking and hard working graduates and young skilled individuals freeing itself from any governmental ‘requirements’. Again, governments do not control cyberspace and off shore dealings. Malaysians will be everywhere in the world working, living, playing and worshipping while still rooted to their ‘tanah tumpah darah ku’.

This Merdeka is a meaningless Merdeka for the nation as it entrenches itself into old political mindsets. But this Merdeka is a new Merdeka for all Malaysians who love the idea of living with deep respect to each other’s faith and cultures and working with each other for mutual prosperity.

What we need is a Merdeka from the old rules of the game towards a new game play of global dimension that frees us from the old 90s ball and chains.

To save this Malaysia, our children must ‘leave the present Malaysia’ and embrace the future Malaysia that lies beyond its shores into a global and universal construct rooted in our traditional faiths and cultures.

(Professor Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor at UCSI University.)

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Resolve race, religion and education to aspire for a better, the real new Malaysia


A short year since the first change in government gave the people hope for a resetting of the national direction, grave doubts about the pace of scope of reforms are clouding the mood for Merdeka Day.

The risk of political instability, economic pain for modest income-earners and worsening communal relations have left many wondering what has gone wrong with the dream of a New Malaysia.

In our Special Report this issue in conjunction with Merdeka, find out what the country’s young people are wishing for the nation amid the cacophony of noises. Contributors include co-founder of #Undi18 Qyira Yusri, Zahirah Zulkifly from Teach For Malaysia and lawyer Melissa Sasidaran, among others.

On the economic front, the country is better off today than decades ago, but the income gap between the B40, M40 and T20 has actually grown. This underscores the fact that economic growth has not been equally distributed to all levels of society.

Of concern is whether there will be sustained income and unemployment growth for all segments of society, especially the lower and middle-income groups.

Then there is the issue of navigating the country’s economy to the right path towards new growth engines that is sustainable and inclusive.

This would mean addressing the various challenges facing the country such as low productivity growth and capital efficiency, continued non-optimal investment in capital-intensive and value-added industries and automation, skills gap for the future workforce, among others.

My aspirations for our 62nd Merdeka

SIXTY-TWO years ago in 1957, Malaya gained independence. The new nation was blessed with a multiracial and multi-religious society and abundant natural resources and natural beauty.

There were serious challenges facing the new nation then, but we were blessed with honest, strong, competent and dedicated founding fathers and able leaders who provided good governance, set up credible national institutions like parliament, the judiciary, security and civil services.

Most importantly, poverty, which was widespread at independence, was considerably reduced as we moved forward, thanks to assertive rural development policies.

The country was also blessed with high economic growth and dubbed a tiger economy. There was little corruption and cronyism for many years after Merdeka.

The economy has since grown faster and developed more strongly in the last 61 years, and the country has progressed in peace and harmony except for the aberration of the 1969 riots.

We were more united then and shared a strong national family spirit. We emphasised and enjoyed our commonality and universality as Malayan and then as Malaysians.

After 60 years of being governed by one political party, we realised that we had been going off the track with rising corruption, cronyism and fracturing national unity, religious intolerance, racism and widening income inequality.

That was when we as a nation said “enough is enough” and elected a new government in our uniquely democratic Malaysian way. Thank God for the fundamental change and transition towards greater socioeconomic, political and institutional reforms and revitalisation of our country under the Pakatan Harapan government.

But we have to work harder to stick to the straight and narrow path and not go off the rails again.

So, on this auspicious 62nd Merdeka Day anniversary, can we all resolve to develop a new national consensus and mould a New Malaysia Policy (NMP)?

To do this, we need to:

1. Apply the NEP to all Malaysians regardless of race or religion. Make the NEP a needs-based socioeconomic policy and end the race-based policy as practised now. This change in policy will remove the sense of alienation that most non-Malays and even many neglected bumiputra now feel;

2. Show greater priority in increasing the opportunities for the B40 groups of all races to earn higher incomes through better and more skills-based education and training programmes;

3. Reject compulsory training in some non-academic studies that are not directly related to improving the present generally low quality of education at almost all levels. Provide more technical and vocational training and use English to teach science subjects. This is essential to make our graduates more employable and get a more rounded education;

4. There should be equal business and employment opportunities in both the government and private sectors. The civil service and business sectors have to be more multiracial in their employment make-up. One way to encourage more multiracial ownership and balanced employment in the private sector in the context of the new policy of “Shared Prosperity” would be to provide new tax incentives in Budget 2020;

5. National schools could teach our mother tongues to encourage higher multiracial attendance. The current perception of national schools being Islamic schools needs to be corrected. They could then become schools of choice;

6. The present campaign against corruption, cronyism and money politics must be stepped up. Continuation of any elements of these very bad practices will undermine national interest and the public’s well-being and welfare;

7. The government must take a harder stand against hate speech and those who promote racial and religious conflict. Foreign speakers and external financing that promote social unrest should be dealt with more sternly and quickly. The

government should not protect these undesirable troublemakers, both foreign and local, who can cause major disunity and instability;

8. Public institutions should be further strengthened and made more independent of any political interference. This is essential to safeguard the integrity and sustainability and, indeed, the very sovereignty of our nation;

9. With climate change and global warming becoming more critical, we must not look at short-term profits and neglect the longer-term devastation of Mother Earth; and

10. As far as possible, we should preach and practise universal human rights in a more sincere and serious way. We can always protect our religious and cultural values and adopt human rights at the same time.

On our 62nd Merdeka Day anniversary, let us all pledge to protect our precious Constitution, live by the principles of the Rukun Negara and resolve to aspire for a better Malaysia.

May God continue to bless our beloved country and people. Selamat Hari Merdeka 2019.

TAN SRI RAMON NAVARATNAM, Chairman Asli Centre of Public Policy Studies –
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Race and religion, the sorry state of our unity


It is sad that mistrust among the different
races is rising even after 62 years of independence, with the various
communities having little interaction or empathy.

IN 10 days, we will mark our 62nd year of Merdeka but unlike last year when elation was in the air with a new government in Putrajaya, the prevailing mood is one of melancholy.

A year on, there is not much to show that we are doing better as a nation in terms of national unity and cohesion.

Instead, the deep fissures that threaten the very structure of the country have become more obvious, as seen daily on social media.

It is no exaggeration to say that highly provocative and sensitive comments stirring unrest among the people have become the norm.

Race and religion remain the most divisive issues, as they were under the previous six-decade-long administration but with the comparatively freer media today, they are being stoked to incite animosity and even flagrant threats of violence.

On Aug 14, a man threatened to behead lawyer Syahredzan Johan for urging the withdrawal of controversial preacher Zakir Naik’s permanent resident status in Malaysia. The 28-year-old security guard has been arrested and is being held under remand.

Last Saturday, an appalling video of man unsheathing three menacing weapons – a parang, a sword and katana (Samurai blade) went viral.

In the three-minute clip, he is heard threatening “impudent non-Malays” with violence as he demonstrates his supposed “invincibility” from harm by running the blades across his abdomen, hands and neck.

On Monday, police arrested a 43-year-old officer over a Facebook posting inciting Muslims to shed the blood of non-believers last Wednesday.

The man urged Muslims to “sharpen their parangs for kafir (infidels) who may want to become like sacrificial cows”.

Shockingly, the suspect is said to be an assistant director with the Islamic Development Department Malaysia (Jakim).

In the wake of such provocations, the Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has set up email and WhatsApp hotlines to lodge complaints against those who insult race, religion or the royal institution.

It’s tragic that mistrust among the different races is rising even after 62 years of independence. Malaysia is more fragmented with its disparate communities having little interaction or empathy for each other.

In the elation following Pakatan Harapan’s victory in last year’s election, hopes were raised for “Malaysia Baru”, a resetting of the nation towards a more progressive and equitable society.

The new vision, Shared Prosperity 2030, as announced by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in May to mark Pakatan Harapan’s first year in power, was aimed at ensuring fair, sustainable, and inclusive economic growth; fostering unity; celebrating cultural diversity; and creating decent living standards for all Malaysians.

But events and issues over the past few months, such as the move to introduce khat calligraphy, the resistance by Chinese educationist group Dong Zong, the furore against controversial Indian Muslim preacher Dr Zakir Naik and the Selangor government’s plan to allow for one parent to unilaterally convert a child to Islam, have shown that the new government is not much different from the old Barisan Nasional when it comes to matters that are inextricably linked to race and religion.

With Umno and PAS upping the ante in playing the race card and the Pakatan Harapan’s ebbing support in the Malay heartland, the new government has been treading very carefully.

In April, the government withdrew from the Rome Statute, after a storm of protests from Umno, PAS and Malay NGOs, which claimed that acceding to the treaty covering the International Criminal Court (ICC) would affect the sovereignty of the Malay Rulers.

Last year, it retreated from assenting to the International Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd) after similar protests.

As for the case of Zakir, who faces criminal charges of money laundering and instigating terrorism in India, non-Muslim Malaysians were dumbfounded by his hobnobbing with the Prime Minister, Education Minister Maszlee Malik and de facto Islamic Affairs Minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa, especially when the preacher openly supported the previous administration during GE14.

The government’s earlier stance of refusing to deport the televangelist, who was given Malaysian permanent resident status by the previous government in 2015, was seen as a move to appease the Malay/Islamic vote bank.

But things have changed drastically for Zakir, who attracted a crowd of 70,000 and was treated like a VIP during a mammoth rally on Aug 3.

He is being investigated for intentional insults to provoke a breach of the peace by making disparaging remarks against Malaysian Indians and Chinese. He has also been effectively barred from speaking across the country.

On Sunday, Dr Mahathir said Zakir had “crossed the line” by delving into politics and stirring racial tension in the country.

Among other things, he was supposed to have said that Malaysian Indians were more loyal to the Narendra Modi government in India and described the Malaysian Chinese community as “old guests” who should go back to China before he is made to leave the country.

Claiming that his remarks were taken out of context, Zakir has filed legal action against Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran, Penang Deputy Chief Minister Dr P. Ramasamy, Bagan Dalam assemblyman Satees Muniandy, Klang MP Charles Santiago and former ambassador Datuk Dennis Ignatius.

Dr Mahathir’s assurance that the rule of law will be imposed on the preacher has somewhat allayed fears that the government would treat him with kid gloves to placate his supporters.

The last thing our already tattered state of unity needs is a foreign agitator adding fuel to fire.

Media consultant M. Veera Pandiyan likes this view of Mark Twain: Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. The views expressed here are entirely the columnist’s own. – Source link
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Anti-corruption crusade in full force in Corporate Malaysia


 

Enough time: Ruslan says there should be adequate time for corporates to implement the guidelines by June 1, 2020.

Will the much-anticipated enforcement of Section 17A of the MACC in less than a year result in a corruption-free business scene?

THE Pakatan Harapan government envisions a corruption-free Malaysia in five years’ time, but the journey towards the ambitious objective will be a bumpy one – especially for Corporate Malaysia.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Global Economic Crime Survey 2018, about 35% of the Malaysian companies surveyed have suffered as a result of bribery and corruption in their daily operations. This marks a sharp increase from just 19% in 2014.

Speaking with StarBizWeek, Transparency International Malaysia (TIM) president Muhammad Mohan cautions that “corruption is rampant and has worsened in the Malaysian business sector over the last few years”.

Despite the worrying trend in Corporate Malaysia, preventive anti-corruption measures among local companies remain limited.

As at end-May 2019, only 59% of listed companies in the country had an internal anti-corruption policy, according to the Securities Commission (SC).

The good news is, the Pakatan administration has been ramping up its anti-corruption initiatives over the last one year.

About a month after the 14th general election (GE14), the government established the Governance, Integrity and AntiCorruption Centre (GIACC) to monitor and coordinate all activities related to combating graft, integrity and governance.

In January 2019, the National AntiCorruption Plan 2019-2023, which was developed by GIACC, was launched by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The five-year plan has outlined six priority areas and 115 initiatives to achieve zero-tolerance to corruption and bolster good
governance.

On July 18, the SC presented its anti-corruption action plan to the Cabinet Special Committee on Anti-Corruption chaired by Dr Mahathir, with recommendations to prevent corruption, misconduct and fraud.

Section 17A comes into force 

In addition to these efforts, beginning June 1, 2020, Corporate Malaysia will take its next step towards a corruption-free business environment via the enforcement of Section 17A of the MACC Act.

The new provision, which was inserted into the anti-bribery act before the GE14, establishes the principle of corporate liability among businesses. Under Section 17A, companies and their directors could be deemed personally liable if an associated person such as an employee or subcontractor is caught involved in corruption for the benefit of the commercial organisations.

Section 17A covers companies, partnerships and limited liability partnerships operating in Malaysia.

The companies and directors could defend themselves against prosecution if they have implemented “adequate procedures” such as internal guidelines or staff training within the commercial organisations.

However, senior lawyer and former Malaysian Bar president Datuk Lim Chee Wee says the existence of adequate procedures does not preclude a commercial organisation or the directors from being charged or prosecuted.

“That is to say, a company may still be charged or prosecuted for corruption offence under section 17A (1), but the fact that the company has in place adequate anti-corruption procedures may absolve it from any finding of criminal liability by the court,” he says.

“However, Section 17A does not put an undue amount of responsibilities on the management. While the definition of associated person under section 17A (6) appears to be general and extensive, there is a safeguard in section 17A (7) which provides for the need for a holistic assessment of the relationship between the company and the associated person to be conducted before any liability of the associated person can
be imputed on the company,” he says.

With the anti-bribery provision, companies can no longer hide behind third parties such as consultants or subsidiaries. In the past, holding companies and the board of directors could absolve themselves of any blame if there were corrupt practices at the subsidiary levels.

“Now, the directors and companies are accountable for everything. Even consultants who act for companies come under the MACC Act and the employee hiring processes must be accounted for,” says a CEO of a listed
firm.

He adds that the focus should be more on the wide implications of Section 17A, rather than the cost of compliance.

“It is not whether the corporate liability provision is difficult or adds to costs of  Malaysian companies.

It is a question of whether the companies and directors are aware of the wide implications with the act coming into force next year.

“The MACC act together with the beneficial ownership laws gives MACC the
bite to act on corporations, directors and owners. If they want to get you, they can,” he says.If found guilty of an act of corruption under the soon-to-be-enforcedSection 17A, the penalties imposed on a commercial organisation would besevere.A company could be fined not less than 10 times the value of the gratification or RM1mil, whichever is higher, or be subject to imprisonment not exceeding 20 years, or to both.In short, it will not be “business as usual” for Corporate Malaysia come 2020.

Delay in compliance 

While there are only 10 more months before Section 17A is enforced, many businesses in the country have yet to introduce adequate procedures to prevent corruption in their organisations, in line with the “Guidelines on Adequate Procedures”.

On Dec 10, 2018, Dr Mahathir launched the “Guidelines on Adequate Procedures”, which serve as reference points for any anti-corruption policies and controls an organisation may choose to implement towards the goal of having adequate procedures as required under Section 17A.

SC says that even among the listed companies that have an anti-corruption policy, “the majority of these policies contain gaps when compared to the Guidelines on Adequate Procedures”.

TI-M’s Muhammad Mohan hinted that not all government-linked companies (GLCs) will be ready by June 2020 for Section 17A.

“GLCs especially the larger ones are making preparations to handle the corruption risks involved. The problem is many GLCs and non-GLCs have wasted so much time by not implementing or preparing their organisations for this.

“Many businesses are expecting U-turns or extensions to be given,” he says.

Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers president Datuk Soh Thian Lai says the organisation supports the introduction of Section 17A and has undertaken several sessions to educate its members on the implementation of “adequate procedures” as well as the ISO 37001 Anti Bribery Management System.

As the deadline for the enforcement of Section 17A nears, Soh points out that concerns

remain on the readiness and capacity of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in ensuring that adequate internal measures have been put in place to potential acts of corruption. specially still lack the know-how lementing such measures. There e greater capacity building in place to assist SMEs,” he says.

However, among major corporations in uch as those related to Nasional and the Employees Fund, the guidelines are being owed, says a CEO of a listed company.

The compliance department has grown bigger, he says.  In an email interview with
StarBizWeek, SC says that it will take steps to mandate companies to establish and
implement anti-corruption measures.

“While there may be additional costs in putting these anti-corruption in place, it is important for comealise that these measures will m to avail themselves of the statutory ddefence provided for under Section 17A (4) of the MACC
Act,” says the commission.

Vulnerable businesses 

Past experiences indicate that compaed with procurement, governracts and the  construction sector ulnerable to corruption and kickbacks.

While government and key industry ve introduced several anti-coreasures such as open tender corrupt practices continue to be prevalent in such sectors.

In fact, between 2013 and 2018, nearly 43% of the total complaints received by MACC were on the procurement sector.

Experts say that the trend is expected to change as businesses in Malaysia fully comply with Section 17A, following its enforcement. The adoption of anti-bribery ISO 37001 standards will also bolster Corporate Malaysia zero-tolerance approach towards corruption.

Facilities management service provider GFM Services Bhd, which is actively involved in government contracts, welcomes the enforcement of
Section 17A.

Group managing director Ruslan Nordin believes the corporate liability provision not only upholds a business’ integrity, but also protects shareholders’ value and preserves profitability of the company.

“We view that there is adequate time for corporates in Malaysia to implement the guidelines by June 1 next year,” he says.

Senior lawyer Lim says that Section 17A imposes a duty on all businesses, its directors and officers to be honest in their internal and external dealings.

“This is to be welcomed, corruption increases the cost of transaction, and with this new provision, it should reduce the cost of business,” he says. UHY Malaysia managing director Steven Chong Hou Nian believes that compliance with Section 17A offers businesses an opportunity to exhibit positive values in their corporate culture.

“I opine that the qualitative gains from Section 17A compliance outweigh the additional costs,” he says.

He was also asked whether Section 17A will be successful in reducing corruption within procurement and tendering for government contracts.

To this, he said that the government has pledged to re-design the entire public procurement system while introduce relevant technologies to facilitate a clean, efficient and transparent procurement regime.

“The effectiveness of what Section 17A seeks to achieve, would naturally be premised upon the ecosystem that the MACC Act would operate within.
“The eventual success of the initiative is anyone’s guess, yet I applaud the nation for boldly taking this step forward. This is indeed a success in its own right,” says Chong.

 

TNB to re-credit those overcharged


Unhappy lot: Some of the consumers making a report over their inaccurate electricity bill at the TNB counters. 

MELAKA: Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) has promised to re-credit the excess amount into the bills if consumers have been overcharged.

In a statement, the company said it viewed seriously the concerns of consumers over the drastic increase in their bills and was committed to resolving the issue.

It said it would ensure every complaint was investigated and follow-up action taken.

“This includes returning the excess amount if indeed they have been overcharged. It will be re-credited into the customers’ bills,” it said, adding that it would continue to cooperate with the Energy Commission.

TNB said a comprehensive effort was being carried out to thoroughly resolve the issue.

“This includes helping customers with high bills to personally address their grouses at the nearest TNB outlet or contact the TNB CareLine at 1-300-88-5454.

“We appreciate all the grouses, complaints and feedback and are focusing on finding ways to resolve these,” it said as it apologised to customers.

Meanwhile, yesterday, more than 300 people lodged complaints over their electricity bills in the first three hours of the TNB counters being opened at its headquarters in Jalan Banda Kaba here.

Some 30 counters were set up to take complaints from consumers, who lined up before the office opened.

On Tuesday, the counters, which were opened for 11 hours, took in 560 complaints.

The counters will remain open until tomorrow.

On Tuesday, Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said negligence and technical fault as well as billing for electricity usage for over 30 days, instead of the standard 30 days, had caused electricity bills to spike for certain consumers.

She also said the complaints were from nationwide and not just in Melaka, where it is among the pioneer states to adopt TNB’s smart meter project.

In another statement, TNB denied a viral message on social media that its board of directors had received a government directive to increase electricity tariffs by 30%.

It said it did not have among its staff the name of the person who had purportedly written the message.

It said electricity tariffs were decided by the commission.Source link
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Malaysian mediocre education system and quota: The Endgame


 

IN my last article, I took us along memory lane through the 60s and 70s when our education was world class. As I said, we prepared our bumiputra students at foundational levels in secondary residential and semi-residential schools to be able to competently compete on merit with others, at primarily international universities overseas.

After the social engineering of the New Economic Policy (NEP) quotas of the late 80s, our education system today is wrought by an overabundance of religious indoctrination, overtly in the curriculum and covertly in our public schools’ teaching environment. This was accompanied by the forcing of unqualified bumiputra students into local public universities that had to be graduated into the workforce in spite of them being mostly non performing. Gradings and exams had to bent to ensure large drop out numbers do not inundate the population. Instead, we flood the workforce with mediocre graduates who today fill the ranks of the civil service and government-link-entities top to bottom.

These graduates, in fact, today also fill up the whole levels of our education administration, teaching workforce and universities. Not all, but to most of them out there – you know who you are. Case in point are all the so-called bumi-based NGOs heads, university administrators including vice-chancellors who are somehow twisting their arguments into pretzels to defend the hapless Education Minister who just put his black shoes into his mouth with respect to the issue of a 90% quota for bumis in matriculation.

By now, everyone and their grandmother have seen the video-clip of our supposedly esteemed minister justifying the existence of matriculation quota in favour of bumis because the non-bumis are rich. To add insult to the wounds, he proudly claimed that private universities are mostly filled with non-bumis because non-bumis are better off than the Malays.

Let me today reiterate that this assumption can no longer be left unchallenged. It is patently untrue that all or even the majority of non-bumis are rich and are therefore of no need of government assistance. That the Malays are indeed so poor, that they are the only ones who are overwhelmingly in need of help.

This is a slap on the face of poor non-Malays and an insult to the many hard-working Malay parents who do not rely on government handouts and in general compete on their own merit.

Let us look at the reality, shall we?

Figures provided by Parliament in 2015, showed that bumiputra households make up the majority of the country’s top 20% income earners (T20), but the community also sees the widest intra-group income disparity. According to data from a parliamentary written reply, the bumiputra make up 53.81% of the T20 category, followed by Chinese at 37.05%, Indians at 8.80% and others at 0.34%.

So which groups overall are the top 20% income earners in the country? Answer: bumiputras by a whopping 16.76% to the next group, the Chinese!

However, when the comparison is made within the bumiputra group itself, T20 earners only comprise 16.34%. The remaining comprises the middle 40% income earners (M40) at 38.96% and the bottom 40% income earners (B40) making up the majority at 44.7%.

This means that in spite of almost 40 years of affirmative action, handouts, subsidies and quotas, bumis as a group has a large disparity between its haves and the havenots. That raises the question if it means practically none of the government assistance has in fact gone to help the bumis that truly needed help but has gone to further enrich those who are already having it all!

To the Malays, I say, “You should look into this disparity instead of pointing fingers to other Malaysians who work hard to uplift themselves without any help from their own government”.

Maybe because of your adulation of your Bossku, feudal fealty or religious chieftains that they are the ones that are taking up what is essentially yours to uplift your own lives?

After all the YAPEIM (Yayasan Pembangunan Ekonomi Islam), yes, another institution in Malaysia using religion to sucker people, the Director himself takes home RM400,000.00 in bonus and his senior executive draws another RM250,000.00 all by themselves. Must be one hell of a “pembangunan ekonomi Islam”.

The problem is not between the Malays and the other races. The problem is clearly within the Malay community itself. The help is not reaching the supposed target group. Why? So do not punish others with quotas that penalise the excellence of others for your own dysfunctions.

Now, contrast with the Chinese and Indian communities, where the M40 group makes up the majority.

Within the Chinese community, the T20 group makes up 29.66%, followed by the M40 group at 42.32% and B40 at 28.02%. As for the Indian community, the T20 group stands at 19.98%, followed by the M40 income earners at 41.31% and the B40 at 38.71%.

It is so clearly not true that all non-bumis are rich and therefore the quotas must remain to enable the bumis to compete on an equal footing. The quotas are no longer justifiable if it was ever justifiable in the first place. It is very clear from these data that equal opportunity to university places must be provided irrespective of race purely on merit. The help on the other hand must be in the form of scholarships or loans to those deserving based on the financial capability of each successful university entrant, as simple as that.

If a candidate does not qualify, he or she does not, race be damned. That person must then take a different route – vocational or skilledbased profession or any other road to success. There is nothing wrong with not being a university graduate if one is not qualified. Find your vocation and passion in a field that you will excel in.

The Government has no business populating a university and later the workplace with a single race based on the criteria of fulfilling quota. It makes no sense and it is the root of ensuring the downfall of both the administrative branch of government or even the overall machinery of the nation’s economy.

Maszlee claims that foreign university branches in Malaysia are filled up by non-bumis, therefore Malays need more places in public universities via matriculation. As such the Government instituted matriculation in 1999. He cited Monash and Nottingham as examples. Unfortunately, Monash was opened in KL in 1998 and Nottingham in 2000. That lie blew up in his face pretty fast, didn’t it?

But really why would private universities be filled up with mostly non-bumis? Can’t Maszlee see that if the local public universities are providing only 10% quota to non-bumis to enter via matriculation, an even tougher entry through STPM and none via UEC, that middle and low income non-bumis will have no other choice but to opt for the less expensive private local and branch universities to sending their children for overseas education?

They even can’t gain entry to public universities due to the quotas despite having better results than Bumis. Where do you expect them to go then Maszlee? I know of many non-bumis who are scraping their barrels to ensure they send their kids to further their studies either local or overseas. Many of them have fewer children because they know they will have to pay for their kid’s education in the future. With most if not all of the scholarships given to bumis do they have another cheaper option?

How much more heartless is your assessment of our fellow non-bumis’ predicaments can you get, my dear Maszlee?

I think Maszlee need to learn facts and have some critical thinking before opening his mouth. Being the education minister is not like teaching religion, where people are not going to fact-check you because they think you are a gift from God. An education minister with such thinking cannot be allowed to stay in that position much longer. It is untenable.

Interestingly of late, a number of those from the Malay academia have come to the defense of the hapless minister defending matriculation quota because of workplace imbalance in the private sector. I have to ask is this proof that our universities are headed by Malays who have no business graduating and being employed and now heading such academic institutions and organisations? Do they even realize the tenuous relations between entry quota into learning institutions vs recruitment variables?

We truly need to clean up the education ministry from top to bottom including at our public universities. Too many people with no brains sucking up to powers that be and playing the race and religion card. It’s enough to make you weep.

Back to our conundrum that is the Malaysian education, what then is our endgame?

1. Stop quota – period. Any type of quota. It does not work and it will destroy the capability of our public and private sector to excel. Merit must reign.

2. Go back to basics. Primary and secondary education are the foundation that will allow any persons of any race to compete on equal footing in order to enter vocational institutions, colleges, and universities. The rest will take care of itself upon them graduating and joining the workforce. Trust in our youth. The bumis are not incapable of excelling given the right foundation.

3. Bring back a Science, Mathematics and English-heavy curriculum for primary and secondary years. Go back to basics. These are foundation years. Do not worry about having the latest technology. Children will absorb that in their own time. Tertiary education is where skill-based knowledge is acquired. Foundational knowledge and critical thinking is honed before you leave high school.

4. Please leave religion at home. Teach it if you want but do it outside of normal school hours. Let our children be among their peers as human beings without any differentiation of beliefs and faiths. Let them celebrate their differences without adults telling them who is better than others. Show them all the beauty they possess without judgment.

5. We are all Malaysians. We all bleed the same blood and we all weep the same tears when we are capable but are unable to fulfill our potential because we do not have the financial means to achieve those goals. Help us irrespective of race. All of us contribute to our taxes. No one group should benefit more than the other because they are of a different ethnicity.

We will see that Malaysia will prosper with each race helping each other as Malaysians once and for all.

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‘Money/cash is King’ comes back to bite Pakatan


Politicians using cash to buy power and votes has created a culture in  Malaysia in which people have started valuing money more than truth, hard work and honesty. 

THE enduring potency of the ringgit caused by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s “Cash is King” regime came in for much ridicule in the last election campaign, much to the chagrin of the perpetrator of this philosophy.

In all his speeches and media interviews in the last two years before 2018’s 14th General Election, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad never failed to hammer home the point that Najib told him this when he asked why he was giving out cash hand-outs in so many forms to the people, and very freely too.

His intended message to the voters was that Najib used this tactic to “buy” votes, as Malaysians will eventually be beholden and grateful to the man who dishes out cash. Whether those receiving it deserved it or not did not matter, everyone wanted the money and many did not care where it came from.

For a long time, money and power worked like a firewall around Najib and his Cabinet, which made him believe cash was indeed king as they blithely went about plundering the nation.

It has been established or is being established at Najib’s on-going corruption trial involving the alleged siphoning of funds from SRC International Sdn Bhd, that money was freely dished out for political support, popularity and reverence, among others.

Mahathir’s campaign was direct and simple, that it was borrowed money and stolen funds from the people that was being given out, and this campaign strategy worked. It thus showed that anti-corruption is an easy sell and proved that most Malaysian voters did care about abstract ethical issues like corruption.

Unbelievably, even many of the beneficiaries of Najib’s largesse had obviously voted against Barisan Nasional while some others became turncoats shamelessly, leaving the flagging party.

But one year after dismantling the Cash is King mantra, it somehow appears to be coming back to bite Dr Mahathir and the Pakatan Harapan leadership. The new mantra among many Malaysians now is that they don’t seem to have enough money all the time.

True, the cost of living never came down substantially after the abolition of the GST (goods and services tax), but we cannot deny that it did lower shopping bills in places like hypermarkets as there was no SST (sales and services tax) levied at such outlets.

RON 95 petrol, which is currently used by most motorists, is capped at RM2.08 a litre which is about 40 sen lower than the actual price it would have been if the old managed float system based on global crude oil prices was in place

Not very tangible for the average Malaysian, right? Do they even care to understand the intangibles that they are benefiting from as a result of several new policies and taxes? No! Looks like Malaysians are not prepared to ask what they can do for the country, it is always what the country must do for them.

Nearly every person I meet seems to have just one thing to say: nothing has come down. All prices have remained the same while some have only gone up. And that Pakatan has not delivered or is slow in keeping its promises.

And strangely, I have been noticing a pattern where those providing certain home services like courier and telecommunication technicians actually volunteer to say that times were better under the Barisan government as they had more money to spend.

“It is very difficult now, we have less money to spend compared to last time when BN was in power. Pakatan Harapan is not keeping its promises,” a Pos Laju staff told a friend of mine without being asked.

I’m one who views surveys by certain groups and parties, especially the random ones, warily as the respondents do not necessarily reflect the actual feelings on the ground. So I make it a point to talk to strangers about this subject whether in public stations or while in a queue waiting to pay something.

What I notice is that while people may be a tad bit sympathetic when I tell them they have to give Pakatan more time because of certain extenuating circumstances, generally, they are unhappy.

The bottom line of their unhappiness now is all about cash. They are receiving less money from the government, never mind what they were enjoying in the past was stolen or borrowed money.

This group of people don’t seem to be outraged, which we all should naturally be, at past leaders who had virtually abused their power to rob the nation’s coffers, a fact which has emerged or is being exposed in many key institutions.

They claim that the BR1M (Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia) payments are now lower and many recipients have also been removed from the list as they do not qualify under the minimum household income requirement. So what is wrong with that? Why do you want money that does not belong to you or you don’t deserve?

Yes, it’s true that the Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH, as BR1M is now called) has been reduced by RM200 to RM1,000 but Pakatan has made sure that only really needy Malaysians get such welfare aid, as it had been greatly abused in the past.

And to make sure those really in need receive more help, the government is giving out an additional RM100 for each child below 18 years of age whose guardians are BSH recipients, for a maximum of four children. And if the child is disabled, it is for a lifetime, no age limit. So if a BSH recipient has four children below 18, he or she gets a total of RM1,420. This is higher than before.

Malaysia has thrived because of a culture of opportunity that encourages hard work in the private sector. Of course, the social restructuring policy, which was aimed at giving a hand to the have-nots to give them a lift, played a role.

But this should not go on forever, the number must reduce eventually as those benefiting should finally be able to help their families to grow away from this dependency.

The growth of this form of welfare state funded by projected or borrowed income — or worse still, by funds siphoned from government coffers — is turning Malaysia into a land where many expect, and see no stigma attached, to receive regular financial support.

I find this a growing and dangerous trend, when undeserving Malaysians sit back idly and wait for these cash hand-outs as an entitlement instead of a privilege. And what’s more distressing is to see politicians feeding this cancer as a way of continuing to stay in power.

The actual meaning of the phrase “Cash is King”, as most of us know, is a term reflecting the belief that cash money is more valuable than any other form of investment tool for businesses. For individuals, it is meant to be a fund which is easily accessible for urgent expenditures or purchases.

It is not a phrase that politicians or others use to indicate that they can buy power and votes so that they are able to be in absolute control of the nation for as long as they want. Unfortunately, though, many have done this and it has created a culture in Malaysia in which the people have started valuing money more than truth, hard work and honesty.

Cash is not king when it is stolen from others or, worse still, from public funds placed under your trust or control. That is called cashing in. It is surely not king if it is obtained by unfair trade practices or it is beyond a fair deal.

In this context, something that Dr Mahathir said about two years before the last election shortly after he decided to re-enter politics stands out in my mind. He had said: “You see the collapse of moral values in Malaysia is terrible. In the future we are going to be like those countries where bribery is a part of daily life — you can’t do anything without bribery.”

This is what he is trying to dismantle after he came back into politics at the age of 93, so we should give our wholehearted support to him and Pakatan for a better and cleaner Malaysia for all.

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