Don’t brush aside the goodwill, Mahathir !


Fruitful friendship: National carmaker Proton
was given a boost when Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group
came to its rescue last year.

A graphic being circulated on social media has the Chinese flag planted all over a map of Peninsular Malaysia, suggesting that Red China has taken over our land. The political message is clear: the Najib Administration is hawking the country.

Framed against the backdrop of a heated general election, everything is fair game, with no sacred cows, but the anti-China campaign is detrimental to the country and people.

Besides reeking of racism, it will drive Chinese investors away from Malaysia if the country is perceived as being hostile.

The reality is that many other countries will roll the red carpet for China, inviting the eastern giant to pour money into their countries, but in an emotional elections campaign, rhetoric seems to have prevailed above rationale and logic.

It didn’t help that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in a recent interview with Reuters, warned that Chinese investors in Malaysia will face more scrutiny if he regained power in the upcoming election.

He reportedly said that Chinese investment was welcome if companies which set up ope­rations in Malaysia employed locals and brought in capital and technology to the country, but “this wasn’t the case now.”

“Lots of people don’t like Chinese investments,” the former prime minister claims, saying “we are for Malaysians. We want to defend the rights of Malaysians. We don’t want to sell chunks of this country to foreign companies who will develop whole towns”.

Last week, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia will stop borrowing from China, adding he would review Chinese investments if his political coalition was put in charge.

He told the Associated Press that “in the case of projects, we may have to study whether we would continue, or slow down or negotiate the terms”.

However, China is Malaysia’s top source of foreign direct investment, contributing 7% of the total RM54.7bil it received last year. That’s not a revenue stream to dismiss flippantly.

Recently, the Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia, Bai Tian, gave a firm reassurance that the republic would import more Malaysian palm oil and palm-based products, stressing there would be no cap on its imports.

He said: “We will not set any limit”, and “there will be no ‘glass ceiling’ for the import of Malaysian palm oil and related products”.

In the first six months of 2017, the total export of palm oil and palm oil products to China grew 9.8% to RM8.52bil, up from RM7.76bil a year ago.

As for the export of rubber and its products to China, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong revealed that China has overtaken the United States and the European Union to become the top export destination for Malaysia. The total export of rubber and related products to China in the first 11 months last year jumped by 76% year on year to RM7.45bil, compared to RM4.23bil in the same period in 2016.

These are real facts and figures. This is not fake news.

All these huge imports by China will directly benefit Felda settlers.

Surely we need to treat our No. 1 customer well, and not kick them in their derriere or allow ourselves to be viewed with fear and ridiculed in election rallies, which we seem to be adept at.

Palm oil is straining under the weight of huge challenges from unfriendly EU countries, which are dead against the industry.

In a move to lift oil seed prices and encou­rage domestic supply of soybean and grapeseed, even India has raised its import tax on crude and refined palm oil to its highest level in more than a decade.

As one news article reported, “over the last 30 years, China’s economic growth has been phenomenal. A country of 1.3 billion with the biggest number of poor people, has propelled more than 600 million into the middle class.

“She is adding 30 million (incidentally, Malaysia’s total population) to this number every year. Most respectable studies are predicting the Chinese economy will be bigger than the US’ before 2030. Bloomberg says this will happen in 2026.”

As commentator John Lo correctly wrote in Free Malaysia Today: “President Donald Trump’s inward-looking policy is hastening the decline of the US. The US and her allies have ruled the world and imposed their will on other countries in the name of democracy and promise of prosperity for a few hundred years.

“Very few countries have benefited, and many have suffered by adopting or submitting to the US’ will. China’s economic growth model has shown to be better than that of the West’s.

“The US’ presence in Malaysia has helped little to build up our economy. They have been pumping our oil for years but have not given us an oil industry. They have invested a lot more, I really mean a lot more, in Singapore’s oil industry.”

In June 2017, trade with China totalled RM22.75bil, up by 8.7% from RM20.92bil – and the cash registers will ring louder as China’s wealth increases.

Of course, then there’s Proton Holdings, which registered losses of up to RM1bil in 2017. No one dared touch the national car maker, which, to put it politely, was well past the ICU stage. Even a defibrillator was useless.

For decades, Malaysians had to pay so much for imported cars, having to put up with protectionist measures and the obligatory national pride. No one was prepared to tell Dr Mahathir that the business model wasn’t workable anymore.

Then, China stepped in. Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group came to the rescue and took up a 49% stake in Proton. Geely is also the owner of Volvo, Boyue and the London Taxi Company, which produces the city’s iconic cab.

After Proton was sold to Geely, Dr Mahathir said he was saddened, but in 2014, it was he who travelled to China to meet the manufacturer to seek a Proton partnership, a bid which ultimately fell through.

On the tourism front, Malaysia is expected to hit the four million mark for inbound tourists from China this year. This is a trickle from the Chinese point of view, but with a fast-expanding middle class, the figures will surely spike.

One report said that Chinese investments in Malaysia “have continued to be on an uptrend despite the stringent capital control introduced by the Chinese government last year, signalling China’s commitment to pursue long-term investments in Malaysia. Among the projects that have seen significant Chinese investments in recent years are the Forest City in Iskandar Malaysia (RM405bil), the East Coast Rail Link (RM55bil) and Melaka Gateway (RM29bil).

“While the outlook for China’s ODI (overseas direct investments) appears to have dimmed, Malaysia has become the fourth largest recipient of China’s ODI globally this year.

“In the latest China Going Global Investment Index 2017 report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Malaysia has jumped to fourth position in 2017, compared with 20th in 2015.”

“The significant improvement is mainly a result of Malaysia’s important participation in BRI-related projects, apart from the welcoming attitude towards Chinese investment.”

The stakes are simply too high for politicians to turn China into a bogeyman and instil fear in the voters’ minds, particularly in the Malay heartland.

“I am willing to take a bet that should the Opposition take over the government, they will run to Beijing first for investment. The reason is simple, the US will not invest much here. Europe is down.

“Japan has been in the doldrums for more than 20 years. They need investments more than Malaysia does. It is not wise to run down China’s investment for the sake of political campaigning,” Lo wrote.

He added that “the proper way to address any issue on China’s investments is not to blame the Chinese. They have come because the Government has lobbied hard for China’s investments.

“If the Opposition has any reservations, they should direct their criticism at the Government and not implicate China. To say that China is giving kickbacks is in bad taste and shows insensitivity and crudeness.”

Another favourite China-bashing target concerns Johor’s Forest City project. Claims abound about the loss of sovereignty when, in fact, the properties were constructed on reclaimed land, and not on existing plots in the state. The sprawling property will be built on land that never existed prior.

The developer, Country Garden Holdings, isn’t a fly by night operation. Instead, it is China’s sixth most successful property developer in terms of sales, and has a market capitalisation of US$61.87bil (RM241bil). The owner, Yang Guoqiang, has family assets worth 45.5 billion yuan (RM28bil).

Another bit of nonsense implicating China is the claim that the Government had granted tax exemption to federal projects, such as the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) built by the Chinese, a move designed to anger the Malays. But during Dr Mahathir’s time, under the Sales and Services Tax (SST) system in the 1980s, exemption was given to several mega projects, including the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), Express Rail Link, Smart Tunnel, Bukit Jalil Stadium, as well as to independent power producers.

If GST relief was not offered to China Communications Construction (CCC) Sdn Bhd for the ECRL project, it would have cost a lot more, thus increasing the country’s debt and incurring huge losses.

But leading up to the elections, rhyme or reason get thrown out the window, and facts and figures take a back seat. For some people, in their anger, truths are brushed aside at the expense of damaging the goodwill extended by China.

Those who have dealt with China will tell you they value friendship. They remember their friends – and their foes, too.

Source: Wong Chun Wai

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.

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Malay & bumiputra rural voters will determine the winners or losers of coming Malaysia’s GE14


Down the wire with the Malays

– With urbanites caught up in social media debates, it will be the quiet rural folks who determine the winners (and losers) of GE14

IF you haven’t already heard this one before, it will be the Malay and bumiputra voters, mainly in rural areas, who will determine what the next government looks like.

Despite the racket from urbanites, be it in private discussions or from the many irate postings on social media, it will come down to the relatively quiet rural folks who make up the decisive voices.

Out of the 222 parliamentary seats, there are now 117 rural Malay seats in Peninsular Malaysia, following the delineation exercise – up from the previous 114 Malay majority seats in the previous general election. There are 19 seats each in Sabah and Sarawak, with predominantly bumiputra voters.

These 117 seats include the 52 constituencies in Felda settlements regarded the heartland of the Malays, where the primary concerns are racial and religious in nature.

Another election monitoring group, Tindak Malaysia, reportedly estimated the Malay majority seats at 115 – up one seat from the previous 114, before the delineation.

To form the government, all that’s needed is a simple majority of 112 seats. Prior to the dissolution of Parliament, the Barisan Nasional had 130.

Donald Trump won the United States presidency firmly backed by the rural areas, and not from that of New York, Los Angeles or Washington DC. In fact, he lost the popular vote by a bigger margin than any other US president in history, but he won, via the country’s electoral system, which saw each state assigned several votes that go to the candidate who wins the public vote in that state.

His Republican party won in what is regarded as swing states, such as North Carolina and Ohio, with huge rural votes. In fact, he won 67% of the rural American votes.

In Malaysia, our voting system is much simpler with its “first past the post” format, based after the British electoral system. Again, popular votes don’t count. But like in the United States, it will be the rural folks who will be the determinants. In Malaysia, it won’t be the traditionally anti-establishment Chinese voters in cities.

In the 2013 elections, there were 30 Chinese majority seats or 13.5% of the parliamentary seats, according to a recent news report, quoting social media analytics firm Politweet.

“The proportion of ethnic Chinese voters in these seats ranged from 52.27% (Beruas) to as high as 90.94% in Bandar Kuching.

“These seats can be found in Penang (7), Perak (5), Kuala Lumpur (5), Selangor (1), Melaka (1), Johor (3), Sarawak (6) and Sabah (2),” it said. From the 30 Chinese majority seats, the DAP won 29 and PKR one.

But Tindak Malaysia has claimed that the number of Chinese majority seats has dropped to 24. There is also another stark fact; even without the delineation exercise, the number of Chinese voters has continued to shrink sharply.

According to Malay Mail Online, despite blaming Chinese voters for the decline in votes for Barisan, they, in fact, only formed about four million of the total 13.3 million registered voters. It quoted Politweet founder Ahmed Kamal Nava as saying that the Chinese vote “is going to become less relevant to both Barisan/Pakatan Harapan over time because the Chinese majority seats are going to become mixed seats and eventually, Malay majority seats”.

The report also said that a comparison between the GE13 electoral roll and the electoral roll for 2017’s first quarter showed that the Chinese voters’ projection has already fallen by over one percentage point in seven states and in 79 of the 165 seats in the peninsula.

Going by current trends, the projection is that the number of non-Malays will continue to drop further, with some saying that by 2050, there could be 80% bumiputras and just 15% Chinese and about 5% Indians.

In 2014, 75.5% from the live birth total were bumiputras, followed by Chinese, at only 14% with Indians 4.5%, and others 6%.

Based on calculations, the Chinese birth rate at 1.4 babies per family in 2015 from 7.4% in 1957 means that their position in Malaysia will fall from 24.6% in 2010, 21.4% in 2015 to 18.4% or less in 2040.

In the 2013 elections, realising that it is the majority Malay votes that will tip the scale, the DAP readily tied up with PAS, hoping they would be able to capture Putrajaya. The DAP aggressively pushed the Chinese to vote for PAS, and many did willingly, but the pact failed to materialise. PAS paid a heavy price for sleeping with the enemy, because the rural Malays simply couldn’t accept the Rocket.

A random survey on PAS’ core voter base – rural Malays – by online portal FMT, found that many viewed its alliance with the “kafir” party DAP suspiciously.

PAS emerged a major loser in the 13th general election, managing to grab only 21 of the 73 parliamentary seats it contested. It even lost Kedah. In the 2008 polls, it secured 23 parliamentary seats.

PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang must have found his dabbling with danger a painful one. It didn’t help that the relationship between the DAP and PAS had soured following the elections.

Fast forward to 2018. The DAP, again, is explicitly aware the Chinese cannot hope to dump Umno without the Malays, so a new pact with PKR, Parti Pribumi Malaysia and Parti Amanah Negara has been forged.

It is even prepared to drop its iconic Rocket symbol, its organising secretary Anthony Loke admitting the Malays are wary of it.

The test now is whether the Malays in the rural areas will accept the idea of having Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Lim Kit Siang, whom the former had demonised the past 30 years of his political life, as emblems of a party taking care of their interest.

If no Malay tsunami materialises, and if the Chinese, again, place their chips on the Opposition – which seems to be the sentiment currently in urban areas – then, it will be the third consecutive elections in which the Chinese would have bet on the losing side.

The implications will be far-reaching for the community, especially if the Chinese representation in the government is weakened or non-existent when it involves legislation with religious overtones. It will also mean the possibility of being cut off from the mainstream involvement in crucial policy making and areas of development.

More so with whispers of a tie up between Umno and PAS, in some form, after the general election.

If the Barisan continues to get the mandate, as expected, DAP could end up occupying the biggest seats on the opposition bench since the rest of the Malay parties are generally untested, with PKR the exception.

Not many city folk, with the rising political temperature, want to hear or accept that this is simply a fight in the rural Malay heartland. Reality check: it will be the Malays and bumiputras who will have our fate in their hands.


By Wong Chun Wai, who began his career as a journalist
in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various
capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief
executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the  occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.
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Telling fact from fiction, fake news


Easy target: Fake news is a big problem here because many of us are too impressionable when it comes to news on the Internet.

HARDLY a day passes without someone sharing a video with me. No one bothers to check, not for a minute, if this could be nothing more than a fake video gone viral. Yet, amazingly, they are quick to forward such things to me.

And that doesn’t even include the unsolicited political messages, through which senders expect their receivers to echo their political enthusiasm.

More alarmingly, residents chat groups on uncollected rubbish or poor maintenance, suddenly see political messages popping up in them. Even prayer and old classmates chat groups aren’t spared, my goodness.

Blame it on what is often dubbed “silly season”, leading up to the general election, but don’t test our patience by diverting our attention to something trivial. It is downright irritating and insulting. And who cares about these politicians, anyway? Not everything in life is about politics, after all.

On Friday, a video went viral on what looked like a gun fight between the police and a notorious gang in Kuala Lumpur.

Some truth-seekers took the trouble to check with the media, but most would have despatched it to their friends in no time at all.

As trained journalists, we obviously scrutinised the video to look for give-aways. It doesn’t take a detective to pick out the holes, but then, there are many gullible Malaysians.

For one, the tiny yellow taxis in the video don’t exist in KL. There is no such building with that staircase structure in the capital, either, and there was a camera crew in plain view running around filming the action scenes, clearly indicating a movie set.

Most of the cars in the video aren’t even models we regularly see in Malaysia, and there was also a guy who ran by wearing what appeared to be heavy clothing.

On Thursday night, it got even sillier.Leaping out of the world wide web was a video of what’s been made to look like a Malaysian student being bullied in a classroom.

The comments by some racist airheads really infuriated me. With the victim appearing Chinese, the bully possibly Malay – he looked Indian to me – it became fertile ground to sow the seeds of hate.

At no point did it occur to them that this video could have come from Singapore. It didn’t even cross their minds that Malaysian students no longer wear uniforms entirely in white. The last time students were decked completely in white was probably in 1979 – during my time as a student. And desks and chairs in green? In our schools?

The Education Ministry has come out to confirm that the incident in that widely-shared video happened in Singapore on Feb 9.

Describing the footage as a “severe case of bullying”, Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan urged netizens to stop spreading the clip.

“This happened at Westwood Secondary School in Singapore. Please don’t spread this video and claim that it happened in Malaysia.

“Before forwarding anything, it would be wise to authenticate its veracity to avoid confusion and misinformation,” he added.

A group of students from Westwood Secondary School were filmed punching, kicking and throwing chairs at a classmate in a video that then went viral, reported Singapore’s The Straits Times on Feb 18.

In the video posted on Facebook page Fabrications About Singapore on Feb 15, a student can be heard egging his friends on to “teach” one of their classmates a lesson.

Two students were captured throwing chairs at a boy seated at his table in a classroom while on his mobile phone. The boy is stunned when a chair hits his head.

A student then slaps the boy, before throwing a series of punches and kicks at him.

Then, the student overturns the boy’s chair, shoves him to the floor and continues to pummel him.

Then, there was the fake sex video, which purportedly featured national badminton hero Datuk Lee Chong Wei as a “movie star”.

I meet my fellow Penangite regularly, and I can safely say that I have observed him up close and personal.

I can tell that Lee is much more muscular than that skinny, presumably, porno actor in the video, and the hairstyle doesn’t even match our sports idol’s.

Lee has done right by making a police report, and let’s hope the police, with the help of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, swiftly track down the culprits of this vicious smear campaign.

It’s obvious that some people not only want to discredit the three-time Olympic silver medallist but are looking for maximum mayhem by aligning their dubious act to coincide with the release of his feature length biopic Lee Chong Wei: Rise of the Legend next month.

And that’s far from the end of the tall tales. There’s also this pathetic fake news about rejected Musang King durians from China – timed to perfection to be “reported” right before the International Durian festival in Bentong.

The Internet burned with a doctored picture depicting a mountain of the “rejected” fruits, which were said to have been exposed to extremely high levels of insecticide.

Those who shared that piece of poor journalism – either because they were sincerely concerned, genuinely ignorant or politically motivated – didn’t know, or cared to find out that Malaysia doesn’t export durians in its original fruit form but rather, as frozen pulp in packages.

And for sure, the Chinese wouldn’t have wanted to bear the freight charge to return these bad durians to Malaysia. The life span of our durian is only a day or two. How could it have been stacked up like that in the picture?

Durian lovers who inspected the picture could tell they were not Musang King, but instead, something of Thai origin.

With the general election looming, the recycled rumours of Bangladeshi phantom voters arriving by the planeloads at KLIA2 have resurfaced. Even an opposition state assemblyman, in her Chinese New Year video criticising the #UndiRosak activists, cheekily added that “even the Bangladeshis want to vote.” Can you picture 40,000 of them milling at our airport?

Although not a shred of evidence has come to light to back up the incredulous claim, the myth continues to be perpetuated, and it’s a given it will be rinsed and repeated. Perhaps it’ll be the Nepalese or Rohingya this time?

While the ordinary Malaysian can be forgiven for being easily swayed, it’s an entirely different story when journalists find themselves duped, or God forbid, spreading the “news”.

In the 2013 general election, a prominent TV presenter posted on his Facebook page claiming a blackout occurred at the Bentong counting centre, which led to the Barisan Nasional winning the parliamentary seat, slyly implying the coalition cheated during the result tabulation.

He got his network into hot water when he returned to his FB profile to say, “when my child is born, I will ask him to write an essay with the title ‘The Blackout Night’. The beginning of the essay would be on May 5, 2013, there was a stiff fight in the Bentong seat. Someone had said that he would cut his ears if it is lost, and then the counting process started, blackout …”

To credit MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai’s opponent, DAP challenger Wong Tack denied the rumours. But let’s hope this presenter has since matured, and perhaps, become more cynical as a journalist or presenter, at least.

The most frequent fake news that sparks to life every few weeks would be the dates of the Parliament’s dissolution and polling.

Interestingly, in the case of the polling date “report”, it involved the Prime Minister having an audience with the King, accompanied by the Deputy Prime Minister and Speaker.

It’s all very simple, really – the PM doesn’t need anyone tagging along, and after meeting the King, he surely can’t be fixing a date since that job belongs to the Election Commission.

A news portal reported that fake news is a big problem here because many of us are too impressionable when it comes to news on the Internet.

The Asian Correspondent reported: “Without questioning the veracity of certain claims and announcements, it seems that oftentimes, anything resembling a news story – whether shared on social media or via mobile messaging apps – is swallowed wholesale.

“Let’s look at how WhatsApp has become a popular platform to spread news. How many of you have received forwarded messages that clearly resemble fake news and could have easily been dismissed as such? I’m sure so many have, and speaking from experience, it definitely gets frustrating.

“The worst part is that when you question the person who unwittingly forwarded the news, he or she would say, ‘I don’t know if it’s true or not. I received it from someone else, so, I’m just forwarding.’”

This has happened continually because no one is punished for their unscrupulous and reckless deeds, even if their actions lead to undesirable consequences amounting to racial tension, riots and even death.

And the campaigning hasn’t even begun! So, let’s put on our thinking caps and brace for the inevitable soon – a deluge of fake news.

On the beat Wong Chun Wai

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.
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Pooch and prejudice: years of the Dog 2018 and Pig 2019


No puppy love: To immortalise Hachiko’s loyalty, a shiny bronze sculpture stands near the Shibuya train station.

I decided to celebrate Chinese New Year away from Malaysia this year, so my wife and I chose Tokyo as our destination.

We wanted somewhere that was a short flight’s distance for a brief getaway to celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary, an occasion marked auspiciously by Valentine’s Day and of course, this time around, the Chinese New Year holidays too.

Now, the problem with Tokyo is the absence of any form of Chinese New Year mood there since it is not observed by the Japanese. But the cool weather was a refreshing change from the stifling heat currently enveloping Malaysia.

That said, the Year of the Dog would not be complete without tipping the hat to Japan’s most revered dog at Tokyo’s Shibuya metro station.

There, a statue of the faithful and fabled canine Hachiko has been erected as a homage, where selfie opportunities are mandatory for anyone visiting Tokyo to realise their trip.

The dog, from the Akita prefecture, has long become a symbol of faithfulness, a trait familiar with dog lovers.

This legendary canine was born in the city of Odate but ended up being owned by university professor Hidesaburo Ueno, who lived in the Shiba neighbourhood.

Hachiko would wait patiently at the same spot in the train station for his owner to return on the 4pm train from his workplace, the Tokyo Imperial University.

But one day in May 1925, the professor never returned to greet his loyal friend after suffering a fatal cerebral haemorrhage on campus.

A forlorn Hachiko would return to that same spot for the next 10 years, hoping to be reunited with his master.

“It is said that the dog would wait outside the station every evening – a model of fidelity and patience,” the Japan Times reported.

To immortalise the canine’s loyalty, a shiny bronze sculpture stands at the Shibuya station. The art fixture was put up in 1934 and has since become one of the area’s main tourist attractions.

The story inspired the 2009 film Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, starring Richard Gere. And less known, perhaps, is Hachiko Monogatari from 1987, which relates the same tale.

The body of golden-brown Hachiko, which has been described as the most faithful dog in history, was found in a Tokyo street in 1935. He had died of old age. To keep his memory alive, he was preserved and placed on display at the National Science Museum.

He also has his own memorial beside his master’s grave at the Aoyam cemetery.

In 2015, a new statue was installed at the University of Tokyo, the new name of the imperial university, to mark the 90th anniversary of Ueno’s death and the 80th of his dog’s.

“The statue depicts a joyous image of the professor and his loyal dog being reunited. It tells a happy tale of master and dog reunited forever at last,” a news article reported.

As we celebrate the Year of the Dog, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department must be applauded for assuring Muslims that using images of dogs for Chinese New Year celebrations “is something that must be respected by all” and “according to the Islamic concept of co-existence, as well as Malaysia’s practice of moderate Islam”.

Jakim director-general Tan Sri Othman Mustapha’s statement was certainly welcome and was even a pleasant surprise for many non-Muslims, who often view the authority as conservative.

After all, this is the same agency that insisted popular pretzel chain Auntie Anne change the name of its “Pretzel Dog” to “Pretzel Sausage”.

Non-Muslims have always been respectful of how Muslims consider dogs unclean under Islamic tradition.

Some have gone to ridiculous lengths to ensure that such sensitivity is observed – even leaving out the likeness of two animals, the dog and pig, from the Chinese zodiac!

Believe it or not, a T-shirt maker printed tops like these to represent the 12 zodiac animals for the Chinese New Year recently.

And some malls even chose not to use image of dogs in their Chinese New Year decorations.

Not surprisingly, the over-reaction of these business entities have irked their Chinese customers, judging from the response on social media.

It may seem surprising that Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) has produced some of the best veterinary doctors in this country, the majority of them Muslim.

My late dog Jezz, a gorgeous white Spitz, lived for 16 years and endured that long because of the loving affection of a Muslim vet at UPM.

She showed her care, not just as an animal doctor, but as someone who consistently reminded her students and visiting pet owners that dogs are also God’s creations.

A young tudung-clad Muslim vet from a clinic in Aman Suria, Petaling Jaya, has also been doing a wonderful job of looking after the health of my poodle, Paris.

In all my visits to consult these two doctors, neither has ever displayed any apprehension or disdain in handling my pets. They have always been professional and are true animal lovers, even graciously accepting dogs.

Next year, the Chinese will celebrate the Year of the Pig. For whatever reason, we have become more afraid these days, a situation far different from the past.

Well, the last time we celebrated the Year of the Pig in 2008, nothing untoward happened and the chubby animal didn’t disappear into thin air then either.

I have always had complete faith in the sense of reasoning and maturity of our people, and I believe no one will lose their head over a zodiac sign.

Wong Chun WaiBy Wong Chun Wai
Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.
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All in a day’s words in politics


 

Some phrases have become jargon for lawmakers. Many have been overused, and in most cases misused, by this category of people.

 

Ten most incredible remarks by our (or any other) politicians:

 

1. Playing politics – One politician accusing another politician of “playing politics”. If politicians are not playing politics, then what are they supposed to be doing? We expect politicians to, well, play politics and to engage in politicking. That’s their job and that’s the skill they’ve honed. Can we imagine, say, a footballer accusing another of the same act – “he is only playing football.” It’s bizarre when politicians point fingers at their counterparts for playing politics, often with negative connotations, as it amounts to accusing their reflection in the mirror.

2. Serving the people and country – Every politician in any given country says the same thing. They are supposedly only interested in serving the people, the country, religion, race, pets, families and everything they can think of – except themselves! And we are expected to believe that that’s their noble cause and that they don’t have any ulterior ambitions. Yet, they will spend their entire time and resources kicking, back-stabbing, bad-mouthing and clawing their way to the top! Of course, we will duly be told that they can serve the people “better and effectively” the higher they reach, all in the name of the people’s benefit, of course.

3. I will “take note” of the proposal – Which means the politician will do nothing. In fact, if your staff or colleague spouts
the same phrase, it only amounts to the person not deserving a pay rise. Lazy bones syndrome? Highly likely! It’s almost an expression of inertness. Amazingly, it has now become the standard “tactical response” used by politicians to answer fellow Members of Parliament on the opposite bench during Question Time.

4. I “will study” the proposal – This gives the above a run for its money.

The same disinterested, non-committal reply, aka, “I am doing nothing about it”. This merely amounts to, “We will form a sub-committee/a committee/a task force/action committee to study the matter and a report will be submitted to another committee, which will then deliberate the findings.” In short – nothing happens for a while, or probably in the end, nothing happens at all.

5. “I have been misquoted by the press” – This means the politician has screwed up by putting his foot in his mouth (foot-in-mouth disease?), and the only way to get out of the mess, is well, to deny having said it all together.

And if he did say it, then blame the media for taking it “out of context”. And in their minds, this equals: the media has an ulterior motive; the media is biased; the media has an agenda; the media creates fake news.

Well, if the media produces audio or visual evidence to prove the politician’s folly with the said contentious remarks, then the standard operating procedure would likely be “well, I did say it, but I did not mean it THAT way,” or “you did not quite understand what I said”.

6. Fake news – It has frighteningly and sneakily crept its way into Malaysian politics from the United States, President Donald Trump its greatest purveyor. The fake news accusation is a good tactical move to defend illogical/embarrassing situations created by politicians, and used to near perfection by Trump.

It is just as handy for scatterbrain politicians.

7. Trust me – When a politician requests this faith, you know you should believe in your own instincts and scurry in the opposite direction. But it has to be the most overused and, consequently, misused phrase by politicians everywhere, perhaps perfected by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who doesn’t even have to worry about standing for elections!

8. Dementia – It’s a disease all politicians should contract if they wish to survive long in the merciless business of politics. You are expected to lose your memory of past actions against your opponents, if it means, you are now required to swallow your indignation to forge a new political partnership.

“What? I took action against you? Did I? It can’t be, it’s someone else who did it. Not me. If I did, well, I hope to pardon you soon.” Sound familiar?

9. The opposition is only interested in toppling us – Well, that’s exactly their job scope, isn’t it … to take over from the present administration? If they are not interested in toppling existing governments, then aren’t they wasting their time in the opposite side of the camp?

10. There are no permanent enemies, only common interests – In Malaysia, our politicians have turned this into a near artform, hopping in and out of bed so much so voters end up losing track of the number of strange bedfellows.

Let’s not even get into the pillows and strange dreams, or nightmares that have been created for getting in the same sack. One day, a party is accusing another of being an “infidel”, and the next, it is actually working with “infidels”. Almost predictably, after that, it is seen to be friendly with the same party that it has been crossing swords with for decades.

Meanwhile, divorces are announced for the break up with the infidels, yet, the desire to stay in the same house remains, because, well, the rakyat needs to be served.

That’s not all, and this one is even more incredulous – a leader once threw his opponents into the slammer for all kinds of offences, ranging from threatening internal security to sexual perversion, but in the very next instance, touted his once greatest enemy as the leader-in-waiting and probably gave him a BFF status on his FB. Of course, our voters are expected to subscribe to all of this and believe it’s for their own good.

On The Beat by Wong Chun Wai

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.

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Scheme or scam?: Multi-level marketing companies often conduct presentations to potential members promising financial freedom and a better lifestyle

There is no fast track to getting profits or income. Nothing can replace hard and honest work.

IT’s now called the money game but it has been around for awhile, only that it was referred to as multi-level marketing (MLM) or pyramid scams.

There seems to be a resurgence of such scams recently probably due to the economic slow down. While it may be safer to put one’s money in the bank, the reality is that the interest is not that great. It’s the same with unit trust investments.

So, there’s little surprise that many people are attracted to MLM scams, with its huge returns, although they know there’s always a risk behind these schemes (or scams).

These people are seemingly prepared to take the plunge.

New recruits are told to just deposit RM5,000 and stand to gain RM1,000 every month. That’s so attractive – and that is also how one gets sucked into the game.

Imagine this – if there are over 20,000 members and each of them places RM5,000 in the scheme, that works out to a whopping RM100mil collected. The numbers get higher with more members recruited.

And we wonder why there are not many reports made by the victims to the police or Bank Negara Malaysia against these con artists.

I have a relative who pours scorn on his father who works very hard to put food on the table but this arrogant young punk thinks he can make a huge pile of money without selling anything or working for anyone.

Another friend, who declared himself to be mentally-challenged to escape the bill collectors, used to laugh at those studying hard for their exams.

He said although he was illiterate, he would soon make millions and hire graduates to work for him. Of course, he didn’t see his millions.

These people were driven by pure greed, really. Social media is filled with stories of young people making tonnes of money, often living in Dubai, or driving around in gold-plated luxury cars.

Sometimes, famous personalities are dragged in to be part of these advertisements – without their consent, naturally.

Of course, Google and Facebook are not responsible for these fake news and fake advertisements.

The scams include binary option trading which is essentially an unregulated, and sometimes, fraudulent, mainly offshore activity.

Binary option trading involves predicting if the price of an underlying instrument – shares or currencies, for instance – will be above or below a specified price at a specified point in time, ranging from a few minutes to a few months in the future.

Those involve in it receive a fixed amount of money if the prediction is correct or lose the investment otherwise. It is essentially a “yes” or “no” betting, hence the name binary, according to one report.

But that’s another story.

The one that is hitting Malaysians – particularly those in Penang where many scams seem to surface – is the straightforward MLM.

To be fair, there are legitimate MLM businesses. These actually sell products. Members have to sell real products to earn their income, and not sell membership.

You know you are getting into a pyramid scam when they tell you to just put your feet up and get more people to join in.

The MLM is simply about finding new members – or rather, new victims. It is as good as paying you some silly fake gold coins. In some cases, even so-called virtual coins.

You are told that the more members you recruit, you will double or triple your income. The pyramid will come crashing down once no new members are recruited anymore.

But some dubious MLM have gotten smarter. They sell products but they are mostly “worthless” goods like accessories, stones, cosmetics, health and beauty products, among other things. Some sell low-quality health gadgets with unproven scientific claims.

Come on, don’t tell me your home is filled with air purifiers and magic water dispensers? Or you have some lucky charm? Or stones?

According to Mark Reijman, who advocates financial literacy, these MLM use cheap products to hide the fact that members are actually investing in a pyramid scheme,

He said the products are there simply to hide the truth. Members are investing in a pyramid scheme!

“If the MLM cannot explain the source of profits or give details about the technology of the products, or do not permit you to show your contract to outsiders, they are hiding the fact that their product is useless and the profits come from new recruits and not from product sales.

“Be wary when you are asked to buy a large inventory of the product. Don’t fall for ‘patented’ or alleged ‘US technology’ or secret recipes. It’s all smoke and mirrors.”

He advised the public to be on the alert if the product is not sold through regular channels that have served societies for millennia, such as stores and (online) market places.

“If it is such a great product, why can it not be sold through other channels? Perhaps because those channels don’t allow you to recruit new members and they want to protect their reputation against fake or low quality products?”

There is a lesson here – nothing can replace the old fashioned values like hard work and having honest earnings. Greed should be kept at bay.

In short – pyramid schemes are unstable because at every new level it will require more recruits in an exponential manner, as Reijman warns.

Soon, the scam will run out of people who fall for the scam, at which time the payments stop and that’s when press conferences are called by the victims.

Millions lost because of a hacking job? – now that’s something new.
By wong Chun Wai On the beat

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.

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Cops start probe into JJPTR – Nation | The Star Online

Get rich or poor schemes – Business News | The Star Online

More forex schemes are falling apart – Nation | The Star Online

Virtual money scheme offering 24% returns – Nation | The Star Online

Penang mall where cash is not king – Nation | The Star Online

Money games in Malaysia see increasing players – Nation | The Star …

‘Expose dubious financial schemes’ – Nation | The Star Online

JJPTR founder says he’s seeking help from IT experts – Nation 

Investors may lose RM500mil – Nation | The Star Online

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Published on 28 Jan 2017 Jack Ma shares his views on globalization and Donald Trump’s populist rhetoric. ———————————————————————————————————- Jack Ma founded Alibaba Group, the world’s largest collection of e-commerce websites. The Hangzhou, China-based company operates sites

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✎ Jack Ma is a Chinese business magnate who achieved major success and became a billionaire by founding Alibaba group, a family of successful Internet-based businesses. Jack Ma started his business with $20,000 that his wife and friend helped him raise. He is the first mainland Chinese entrepreneur to appear on the cover of Forbes. He is one of the richest people in the world with an estimated net worth o

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The colour orange: Oren refers to the orange colour of the T-shirts that those arrested by the MACC have to wear when they are brought t…

Mind your words, please!


The colour orange: Oren refers to the orange colour of the T-shirts that those arrested by the MACC have to wear when they are brought to court.

 

THE Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has been in the news almost daily with its arrests of politicians and businessmen, many carrying the Tan Sri and Datuk Seri titles.

This has become the subject of conversation among Malaysians.

To help foreigners, especially those doing business here in Malaysia, below is a compilation of terms that are often used to denote corrupt practices. To the clueless, these words could easily be misunderstood.

Worse, it could land unsuspecting expatriates in serious trouble with the law, especially with the MACC, if they use these seemingly innocent terms without realising their implications.

Here’s a list of everyday words and how they are used.

Jalan – this is a Bahasa Malaysia word for “road”. On the surface, it sounds simple and straightforward. Every road sign begins, mostly, with this word to denote, well, road. If only it was that simple. In reality, it could be the beginning of a corrupt offer.

If someone asks you: “You got jalan ah?” It doesn’t mean seeking assistance for a road direction. In the Malaysian context, it probably means “is there a way to resolve a complicated situation?” Some may argue the word need not necessarily be “illegal” as it could also mean finding a clever way out of a problem.

Kabel – the Malay word for “cable”. Cables are strong, thick wires, which are usually twisted or braided together. Well, in Malaysia, it also means someone in position – a very powerful person, often a politician in high office, or a senior government officer, who is able to help secure a big contract or deal. So, if someone asks whether “you have kabel?” you shouldn’t look puzzled or confused.

It simply means you need to have the support of an influential figure who is as strong as a cable. It’s no longer good enough to “pull strings” but you must be able to “pull cable” for your plans to get off.

Lubang – it literally means a hole. Most Malaysians grumble about lubang or the numerous pot holes along our badly maintained roads. The vulgar ones uses this word with a sexual connotation.

But in the more sleazy world of bribery, lubang means an opportunity, usually an illegal way, to make money. It has nothing to do with holes, as the word suggests.

Kau tim – this is a Cantonese word, which has actually become a Malaysian word, used by all races. It means finished, done or resolved. As simple as that.

But it is also a way of expressing agreement, or to settle a problem with bribery. For example, if you are stopped by a traffic cop for a traffic offence, you may say “boleh kau tim ah?” or the policeman may suggest “macam mana mau selesai, mau kau tim kah?

Lu tak mau kau tim, mesti susah punya. Nanti kena pi balai, pi court.” (If you do not wish to settle, it can be difficult. You may have to go to the police station or even the court.)

Ta pau – I always thought that this Chinese word means to pack food or a take-away, but it has come to mean a greedy corrupt person who wants to take away the entire loot all for himself without sharing with anyone, as in “he wants to ta pau everything, how can? So greedy one.”

So, no expatriate who has just arrived in town should go around telling everyone that he wants to “ta pau” everything he can lay his hands on. He can be sure of getting strange, hostile stares.

Selesai – it means to end or the end. It could be the end of a movie, the end of a meal or the end of a relationship. It’s a really simple word but in the Malaysian context of corruption, it means “how to resolve this?” or “it has been settled.”

Usually, the act of corruption will begin with a simple question – “So, macam mana mau selesai?” or “how do we settle this?”. For sure, it won’t be a challenge to a fight or a gentlemanly end to a problem with a handshake. Don’t be stupid. It’s an invitation to begin negotiation for, errr, a bribe.

The English version is also often used, as in “can settle ah?”

Lesen kopi – This has to be the Corruption 101 lesson for our young drivers. It is the first step into the world of corruption in Malaysia. Nobody wants to admit it but going by hearsay and unsubstantiated remarks, many Malaysians taking their driving test believe that they need to bribe the examiner in order to pass the very first time. Lesen kopi means bribing to get a driving licence.

So, they earn what is known as “lesen kopi” or licences obtained via corrupt ways, or duit kopi. Small gratification for “coffee” for the testers. Coffee, not tea. Strangely, there is no such term despite our fondness for teh tarik.

It may sound terribly confusing to tea drinking foreigners but please don’t think that this is the reason why so many Malaysians kill themselves or each other on our roads.

Ikan bilis – it refers to anchovies, those tiny fish, usually fried, found in our national food, the nasi lemak. But it also means small fry. So when low-ranking government officers are arrested for corruption, the MACC is often criticised for just going after the ikan bilis and not the bigwigs, known as sharks in the Malaysian context.

Makan duitMakan essentially means to eat. There’s no way, literally, that a person can eat a ringgit note. But it is synonymous with taking a bribe. It may be confusing to a foreigner as it may seem impossible to eat stacks of ringgit notes but this is Malaysia. We are versatile as well as adaptive. Many people will tell foreigners that they are able to, well, makan duit. Can one, who say cannot?

Oren – It’s not orange juice. It refers to the colour of the round-collared T-shirts that those arrested by the MACC have to wear.

This is the dreaded colour for all suspects, in handcuffs, being led to court in full view of the press.

You can be in red or yellow but orange is a no-no. The new term now is “jangan oren” or “don’t be in orange.”

On The Beat by Wong Chun Wai, The Star

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.

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