Saturday, August 16, 2008

A different oil policy to encourage economic growth

by Dr. Chen Man Hin

The present oil policy to set gasoline and diesel prices at international market prices has caused a sharp decline of the economy causing hardships to the people.

This is the current policy adopted in developed economies which do not advocate subsidised oil for the people. Their experts contend that subsidised oil would distort the market, and people would not be encouraged to conserve the use of oil. In the end there would be a disastrous impact on the economy and on the environment.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is also Minister of Finance slavishly followed the concept practised in developed countries. It has proved to be disastrous for Malaysia.

Because of the high pump prices of gasoline and diesel, the economy has slowed down considerably. The wheels of industry are not humming, and more people are laid off.
Consumers buy less because of lower income and inflationary prices of food and other essentials.
Every sector of the economy is affected, be it transportation, industries, consumerism, tourism or health.

The DAP has been advocating that Malaysia as an oil producer and exporter should use its revenue from oil to subsidise pump prices, in order to keep the economy going and ensure that the people do not suffer. Unfortunately, the advice has fallen on deaf ears.

The dap highly recommend a smart way to deal with rising oil prices, by adopting an oil policy that is centred to encourage economic growth at any cost.

It is the same policy adopted by China, whose economy is kept going at a fast clip. They were smart enough to adapt and innovate to ensure that the people were not made to suffer by raising gasoline and diesel prices to international. market rates.

China’s oil policy of ’subsidies and price-ceilings’ have proven to be the right formula to cope with rising oil prices. Their subsidies are capped at 1% of the GNP and at the same time they impose a ceiling on pump prices.

Malaysia should send a delegation to China and study the hows and whys of a tried and successful system.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2) - A quadruple scandal

Lim Kit Siang -

The second closure with the reappearance of cracks on the Middle Ring Road 2 in Kepong, less than two years after an atrociously exorbitant RM70 million repair of the RM238 million project. The MRR2 has become a quadruple scandal for four reasons:

(i) Having to be closed down the first time in August 2004 because of flyover cracks within two years of its original completion, when it should be able to meet international standards and last for 100 years;

(ii) the four-fold cost overrun in its repair bill, from the originally estimated RM18 million to the final bill of RM70 million.

(iii) The personal and direct intervention of Abdullah to resolve the intense turf war between the then Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu and the PWD, requiring the covening of a special meeting on a Friday on 3rd February 2006, which was attended by among others the second Finance Minister, Tan Sri Nor Mohamad Yakcob and the then Chief Secretary Tan Sri Samsudin Osman.

(iv) Another closure of the MRR2 after a RM70 million repair – when the amount approved by the 3rd February 2006 meeting chaired by the Prime Minister was for RM18 million!

Is the MRR2 Scandal 2, where Abdullah owes to Malaysians a direct responsibility to give full and proper accounting because of his personal involvement in the decision-making in the RM70 million repair, the cause for his inability to keep his appointment with the 54th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Malicious Mindset and Perverted Priorities

BY: M. Bakri Musa

The continuing furor over a college dropout’s allegation that he had been sodomized reveals the malicious mindset and perverted priorities of the Abdullah Administration.

It is also a gross perversion of justice. Those who would have Anwar swear by the Quran and voluntarily donate his DNA to the police, whose reputation is only slightly less soiled than the criminals they apprehend, have it backwards. It is the norm of the civilized world that one is innocent till found guilty; it is for the state to prove its case beyond any reasonable doubt.

I can excuse law-illiterate Abdullah for not appreciating such nuances, but for his law-trained ministers like Rais Yatim and Syed Hamid not to know that is reprehensible. They are breaching their profession’s ethics and ideals.

Besides, since when has our Quran been debased to a lie detector? If only the truth could thus be readily sought, we would not need expensive forensic investigations! Such naiveté!

What with the economic challenges, endemic corruption, and rampant crime in the country, our leaders’ voyeuristic obsession on this alleged male-on-male khalwat represents gross misuse of scarce state resources, a flagrant perversion of priorities.

Perverted Priorities
In this 21st Century, a charge of sodomy sounds so, well, medieval! To think that in Malaysia today that ‘crime’ carries a 20-year prison term! Perhaps some diligent law student could tell us the last time there was a sodomy trial in Malaysia. I am not counting the 1998 case against Anwar Ibrahim that was subsequently overturned on appeal.

That was nothing more than a crude political maneuver to smear and silence the former Deputy Prime Minister. The glaringly shoddy forensic investigation and amateurish prosecution did not in the least embarrass the authorities.

Nonetheless, in the process Anwar suffered that infamous black eye, the result of being senselessly beaten while in custody by no less than the Chief of Police. The country however suffered an even more damaging black eye, figuratively speaking, from that sorry episode.

Many countries have repealed their sodomy laws making it no longer a crime. Even prudish Singapore reduced the penalty to a maximum of only two years, a far cry from Malaysia’s 20!
Such an enlightened attitude does not mean that society treats lightly or refuses to acknowledge male-on-male sexual assaults. Many jurisdictions have removed the gender specificity to the crime of rape, meaning it can be perpetrated by man on man. It would not surprise me that, like everything else, the Malaysian penal code has yet to be updated to recognize this new reality.

Unlike rape, which requires the legal determination of lack of consent, sodomy does not have that statutory burden. Enough that sperms (or any tissue) other than that of Saiful’s were found in his anus, a fact that could be established through forensic examination. That overrides the “he says, she says” (or in this case, ‘he’) argument. The authorities’ long delay following completion of the forensic examination signals something sinister.

In the context of modern criminal law, what the young man is alleging is that he had been raped. Of course in conservative Muslim Malaysia, a rape charge does not quite have the same devastating political impact as that of sodomy. Indeed, in UMNO’s upcoming party elections one of the candidates for Vice-President was once accused of raping an underage girl.

This sodomy investigation is less the seeking of justice for a ‘soiled’ pretty boy, as Abdullah would like us to believe, more an orchestrated political exercise in character assassination. The recent public opinion polls confirm this.

Meanwhile there are two statutory declarations linking Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah to the brutal murder of a Mongolian model, a translator in the scandalous multibillion dollar submarine deal with France. By whatever measure, the viciousness of the crime or the personalities implicated, these other two allegations are considerably more serious. You would not know that from the reactions (or lack thereof) of the officials.

This sodomy allegation has been commented upon by ministers, senior officials, and Members of Parliament. Don’t they have substantive matters to worry about? Even science-illiterate Abdullah has suddenly become an expert on DNA and its use in forensic investigations!

Now we have evidence that another physician had also examined the young man and found no external indications of bodily injury. This fact was known to the police but it chose to ignore it, until the report was exposed by Raja Petra in his Malaysia-Today.

Although that first physician’s assessment was not a formal forensic examination, nonetheless its negative clinical findings cannot be dismissed. Discrepancy between it and the subsequent official forensic examination must be explained. It throws reasonable doubt to the charge.

The story gets even more bizarre. The victim had a special “visit” with Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak right after the alleged incident. Najib apparently took pity to this stranger. Such paternal concerns! Even more inexplicable is why Najib or his subordinates would allow access of this nondescript political climber.

Serious Problems Neglected
There is no shortage of critical problems facing the country. Citizens’ concerns are far from these sexual shenanigans, real or alleged, lurid or otherwise. They are too busy eking out their daily living. Our leaders’ preoccupation with these silly things merely confirms our deepest suspicions of incompetence and omission at the highest levels.

We suffer daily through the rot of our institutions, as when we visit the land office to pay our assessments or see the dilapidation and neglect that is our children’s school. On the roads we are harassed by those menacing Mat Rempits and have to contend with those boys in blue demanding their share of the “road toll.”

Where are our leaders? Asleep at the wheel, and with Abdullah, literally so! With the upcoming UMNO elections in December, they are even more distracted.

Tun Mahathir, hitherto a trenchant critic of Abdullah, unhesitatingly supports him in this latest action, declaring that it is unlikely for Abdullah to be stupid enough to repeat his (Mahathir’s) mistake of a decade ago. Mahathir deludes himself if he believes that Abdullah has now suddenly become smart or has his priorities right. Mahathir is also mistaken if he thinks that Anwar is as stupid as Abdullah to repeat or be caught with the same mistake.

Contrary to Mahathir’s new-found assessment, Abdullah is as inept and incompetent now as he was before Saiful’s statutory declaration. Abdullah will remain so until we get rid of him. Mahathir was wrong on Abdullah before (as he now readily admits); Mahathir is wrong on Abdullah now.

When Mahathir asserted that we must get rid of Abdullah for the good of the party and country, his message resonated with the masses. In supporting Abdullah’s current foolish action, Mahathir not only risks diluting his central message but also jeopardizes his last chance at remedying his earlier grievous error in anointing Abdullah.

With Abdullah asleep at the wheel, continue to expect the worse. As for this sodomy charge, look ahead to the mainstream media to be filled with silly utterances of our politicians and pundits, as well as prurient details of this slimy case. I for one do not look forward to the graphic description of the private anatomy of this pretty boy who started the ball (pardon me, his balls) rolling.