Monday, 31 August 2015

Merdeka, Merdeka, Merdeka

Merdeka untuk kita:

Since 1957 when we gained our independence from the Brits, our nation has through the toughest of times stood among the best model of Parliamentary Democracy system in the world where the rule of law prevails.

From the very beginning ours has been a very tough nation to govern and administer with a multiracial and multi religious population but Alhamdullilah Praise be to God Almighty...except for those dark days in 1969, we have managed to pull our way through with the cooperation and support of all and ably led by competent and honest leadership both in Political Office and the Civil Service.

Lately however there is a storm cloud over Malaysia, I do not need to elaborate much on the subject matter as much have been written and debated about it over the social media and recently the Bersih 4 rally which in essence is a call to PM Najib Razak to resign from his office due to the 1MDB debt scandal and the USD700 million deposit into his personal account which Najib and his supporters called a donation to Umno even tho many big wigs if not all in Umno do not know about it until that fateful expose by the WSJ. 

Read this well written blog post by JMD for further background:

Happy Independence Day, Malaysia!

I think you really have to have a brain with the dexterity and flexibility of a gymnast to be able to swallow the story that the USD700 million is a donation to Umno from a Middle Eastern nation, especially when Najib is not only Presiden of Umno but also the PM and Minister of Finance of Malaysia. In truth it is plain corruption money and he should be investigated by the authorities....listen to this video of Dr Mahathir:

Kita sudah merdeka dari penjajah British 58 tahun dahulu, 
Sekarang kita mesti merdeka dari pemimpin-pemimpin yang rasuah,
Pemimpin rasuah tidak boleh membina negara yang makmur dan aman damai,
kerana mereka hanya akan memikirkan kesenangan dunia untuk mereka 
dan kroni mereka sahaja

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Housing Market Severely un-Affordable? What will happen to our young?

I blogged a bit about the spiraling house prices last year which I and many other Malaysians predicted sooner or later will be out of reach of many of our young:

'The young find it difficult to afford a home'..Not just the young the old too!

 Now on 24th August 2015 comes this news from TheStar:

Housing market “severely unaffordable”, Khazanah Research says

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s housing market is viewed as “severely unaffordable” with a median house price is 4.4 times median annual household income, Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) said.

An “affordable market” is one where the median house price is three times median annual household income.

KRI managing director Datuk Charon Mokhzani said: “It is generally perceived that high housing prices are a direct result of high land and construction costs but this is not the case. 

“It is because developers are willing to pay for increased land prices as the market price for housing increases, that ultimately causes housing prices to increase.” 

He was speaking at a press conference at the launch of its latest publication, “Making Housing Affordable” report. 

Even constructions costs were not the problem, he said, as Malaysian construction cost had been falling with no consequent drop in house prices.

Charon added that in Malaysia, policy initiatives relating to housing affordability had been through transferring physical or financial resources to low-income households. Middle-income households, however, were neither eligible for social housing nor able to afford private sector-supplied houses.

\“Policy should therefore be geared to improving the elasticity of housing supply, to make it more responsive to the needs of all sections of the population,” he said, point to the strong need to reform the supply-side and enhance its capacity to develop a sustainable and responsive housing sector.

“The provision of social housing for the majority of population will exert financial pressures on government spending. As Malaysia becomes more urbanised, the demand for affordable housing will increase. If the trend is not addressed, the bottom 40% and middle 40% of income earners will likely require social housing in the future,” he said.

He added KRI was in talks with the government to address these issues.

If you are interested this is the link to  Khazanah Research's:

I hope the Government will take seriously the  above-said research  before inadequate and un-affordable housing becomes a 
socio-political problem affecting ALL Malaysians.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Numbed by the policy changes in our Education System

I am already numbed by the policy changes in the education system, it is to be expected that whenever a new Minister comes along...and yes true to form and without fail as soon as this new Minister of Education comes in after the slight cabinet reshuffle about a month ago he wasted no time in yet again changing a planned policy to make English a compulsory pass in SPM in 2016. 

So what is the point of having a National Blueprint on Education if you powerful political people who introduced  it then, do not want to follow it later?

Perhaps the solution for Malaysians is to have politicians totally out of the way and let Education Policies be decided by Education Professionals and apolitical Civil Society eminent persons to be chaired by a retired Judge or somebody else who has  more vision beyond getting the votes to stay in power in Government. Politics must be thrown out of the education system equation if this country is to have any hope of a progressive consistent education system.

Meanwhile, until then as nero plays the fiddle, rome is on fire as the ministers fiddle with the vote counts our children is made to suffer the u-turns, the cancellations n the agony of not being very marketable at the end of the long tunnel of Malaysia's education system.

From the NST written by Syed Nadzri:

U-turning our way to nowhere
NOBODY should be taken by surprise anymore at the latest volte-face in our education system, this time on the English pass in SPM. Disappointed, yes. Upset, certainly. But, surprised? Not in the least, since there have been far too many flip-flops already while standards continue to drop. Too many U-turns make our heads spin.   

It was announced last week that a compulsory pass in English in the Form Five examination, scheduled to come into force next year, had been postponed. And perhaps the people in the Education Ministry have turned so comfortably numb by all the turnarounds that they saw it fit to disclose such a major policy shift in a mere four-paragraph statement.   

The U-turn also came when Malaysians are still recovering from the scrapping of the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) that was introduced in all its glory in 2003 to help students overcome the fast evolving world of Science and Mathematics, for which references are mostly in English. After nine years, it was cancelled with excuses such as the students and teachers not being able to cope. So, now, we see traces of the same in the latest misstep.   

Just consider: when he announced three years ago about the passing requirement for English, the then deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who was also education minister, said the government had placed emphasis on English to strengthen students’ grasp of the subject, with an intention of producing a globalised generation. It was also to improve proficiency which in turn would help them get jobs easily. 

He was on record to say that English teachers would be made to undergo the Cambridge Placement Test (CPT) to gauge their knowledge in the language. The first batch of 5,000 teachers, he said, had participated in the training by the British Council and 9,000 more were set for the course. 

It is futile to ask what has happened to all this even if the policy was part of the Malaysia Education Blueprint. After all, policy changes have become a norm. But that is the whole trouble when politicians, aided by meek policy advisers, get too involved in critical matters like education. The Form Three examination, once called the LCE and then PMR, is no more. Just like the many other changes. 

The point to note is that all those responsible for the tinkering throughout the years thought they were doing growing-up children here a favour and were always declaring that the Malaysian education system is “world class” while they themselves opt to enrol their children abroad.   

The change in the medium of instruction for all national schools to Malay 40 years ago was a good example. It was hailed as a good move then, but now, seeing employment difficulties and global challenges, many people have begun to realise that empty emotions could fall flat.   

I still remember how a long-standing school-term and examination arrangement was changed abruptly nearly 30 years ago when it was announced that the crucial Forms Three, Five and Six examinations would be held much earlier to avoid the year-end monsoon floods.   

Because of this too, there was a change in the term-holiday schedules, with the new school year set to begin in December instead of the first week of January.   

The change was effected through the oratorical skills of an up-and-coming politician at a gathering that had the crowd roaring in support.   

At the time, it looked like this new system would stay forever. But no; it was short-lived because reality sank in later when parents started to complain about the new school year having to start before Christmas and New Year. 

So, the old system was reinstated when a new minister took charge. Then, there was the perpetual concern for the lack of proficiency in English, especially among students in rural schools. 

This proved to be a tough proposition. 

Support and opposition hinged on who said what and when, until even PPSMI was met with muted protests every now and then. 

There are so many other examples of the tendency of a policy going one way only to make a U-turn later, whether it concerns the over-emphasis on religious routines or regulations on how students should dress on the playing field.  

Even the move to appoint a non-politician as education minister for a brief spell not too long ago failed to change matters, though I still think this is the best option.   

Now, I will not be surprised if the latest policy changes abruptly again when many school-leavers fail to land jobs due to a lack of proficiency in English. 

We will go spinning in U-turns again for sure. And definitely whatever blueprint that comes next will not be taken seriously. 

The freelance writer is an award-winning columnist

Read More here

Monday, 24 August 2015

Strong fundamentals are weakening and we are failing – Ramon Navaratnam

Strong fundamentals are weakening and we are failing – Ramon Navaratnam
Published: 24 August 2015 2:32 PM

Our leaders keep saying that our fundamentals are strong. This is comforting.

But actually, our apparently strong fundamentals are weakening and we are failing. But we still have hope as we approach our 58th Merdeka anniversary.

Whether we like it or not, the falling value of our ringgit is a fair reflection of the state of our nation. Our gradual socioeconomic and political decline does not indicate confidence in our strength or success, but sadly our weak fundamentals and prospects.

The performance of the ringgit is like a thermometer that measures our economic fever. Indeed the economic temperature is rising, while our socioeconomic and political health is failing.

If we do not arrest our ringgit’s decline, our economy, like our health, can deteriorate rapidly. Then we could become a “failing state”. But if we still adopt an apparently complacent and cavalier attitude towards the falling ringgit and our current slackening socioeconomic system, then there would be the rising risk of becoming a failed state.

We are not there yet, but the following are some of the signs of a failing state:

1. The steadily falling ringgit is a sign of weakness. Hence the question on most Malaysians’ minds is, how low will the ringgit go? And how long will the ringgit take to stabilise and hopefully strengthen? At what low levels will the ringgit settle?

We have now to work much harder to earn foreign exchange. Imported inflation can cause major problems for all, especially the poor and middle income Malaysians. The 11th Malaysia Plan's aim is to help raise the living standards of the bottom 40% of the population but this goal can be seriously impaired as there are also now new and higher risks of social restlessness and even potential unrest.

2. The federal government's budget deficit has been lowered commendably in the last few years. But can the deficit reduction be sustained in the longer term, with declining oil and commodity prices?

Will the pressure on the government to spend more be adequately resisted as we approach the elections?

It will be very difficult for politicians to face this real challenge, which will require very strong government leadership, especially when the economic fundamentals continue to weaken.

3. Portfolio investment outflows have been rising to nearly RM12 billion in the last quarter, from about RM8 billion in the second quarter this year. Will this unfavourable trend continue, and how much and for how long?

Although foreign direct investment rose to over RM12 billion, creditably the highest inflow in the last 10 quarters, investments by Malaysians abroad rose dramatically to over RM16 billion in the last quarter. This is the highest outflow in the last 5 quarters and poses a weak fundamental.

Hence overall, more private investment capital flowed out than came into Malaysia. This means that Malaysians have less confidence in the country than foreign investors. The private capital flight from Malaysia is certainly not a strong fundamental. This has been carrying on for some time together with a massive brain drain. These trends are clear expressions of much loss of confidence in our good governance. They weaken our socioeconomic fundamentals and don't strengthen them.

All these weakening fundamentals underline the poor public perception that the government has so far not adequately handled the complex and complicated 1MDB alleged dcandal. This alone constitutes a major source of low confidence in economic management and political governance.

4. Foreign exchange reserves are under severe strain. The balance of payments surpluses keeps narrowing due to lowering commodity export prices and rising import prices. Furthermore, Bank Negara's orderly intervention to smoothen currency fluctuations and the decline of the ringgit acutely erodes our hard earned national reserves. They have now declined to about RM94 billion, thus breaking the sensitive psychological barrier of RM100 billion.

The ringgit slide can no longer be regarded therefore as a temporary phenomenon, but a longer term trend. The ringgit cannot and should not be artificially supported by Bank Negara, through more intervention and worse still thorough fixing of a currency peg or via exchange controls, as in the past.

5. Unemployment is low at about 3%, but underemployment can be a very serious fundamental flaw. The huge number of legal and illegal immigrants amounting to arguably about 4 million workers, with low paid wages, forces out our own Malaysian workers from plantations and now even the service industries. Waiters cashiers etc are mostly foreigners whom we see all over the place. Where have our own workers gone?

There are at least 100,000 unemployed graduates who are looking for suitable jobs. This is surely not a sound fundamental. And yet, we have postponed again the teaching of English as a second language. Why? Is it sadly politics again, that will undermine our children's future?

Preserve institutional integrity

6. The national institutions and their strength and resilience are vital for our sustained growth, progress and prosperity. But the wide perception both at home and abroad is that our institutions have been badly hurt and weakened. Even the civil service has suffered from attacks against its traditional independence and integrity, through unfair interference and unnecessary transfers during the course of officials undertaking their duties diligently and faithfully.

Today, there is considerable anxiety and also some fear among Malaysians about expressing their views and participating in public discourse and debate. Those of us who take part often feel we are sticking our necks out. But we soldier on in good faith and in our belief that it is in the public interest to do so. It’s our way to fulfil our own sense of duty to God, king and country. But this feeling of insecurity,should not prevail so widely, as it shows a lack of public confidence in the government to uphold the principles of our constitution, our institutions and good governance.

There is also the perception that the government is selective in the administration of law and order. The passing of the Peaceful Assembly Act was welcomed only because it was thought that it would be fairly implemented.

But there have already been many hurdles put in the way of those who want to organise peaceful rallies before Merdeka. How then can the people develop more confidence in our government and the sound fundamentals governing our institutions?

Democracy may not be dead as yet. But the apparent curtailment of basic and fundamental freedoms such as speaking freely, assembling peacefully, and the non-access to several UN human rights conventions create the sad impression that we have a “deceased democracy” in Malaysia.

Avoid state capture

7. State capture is perceived to be broadly present in most aspects of our life. This happens when governments anywhere use state institutions like the civil service, the police, the judiciary, education system, the Election Commission etc, to ensure continuing rule by a particular government.

The question arises in our Malaysian minds as to whether state capture is practised in our country too. It's an important issue that is worthy of public consideration.

8. For instance, Internet regulation can be a very sensitive matter. It is important to discourage racial and religious intolerance and bigotry, so as to preserve the peace and build national unity. But if new regulations are used to restrict the fundamentals of free speech, then any disease in our democracy can only worsen and cause Malaysian democracy to decay and then die!

9. Malaysia's economic growth is still respectable despite all our problems. But this growth and financial stability runs the grave risk of declining while inflation can keep rising. All this will happen not because of only external factors over which we have no control, but because of our poor governance and excessive and unproductive politicking.

We are still caught in the middle-income trap because we fail to do more to phase out of the outdated NEP and to adopt more of the New Economic Model. We cannot bumble along in a globalised world with outmoded protectionist policies that benefit much more the minority elitist rich and not the majority poor and the middle class!

Given the decline in the ringgit and our fundamentals, we have to adopt some radical reforms in our old and outmoded socioeconomic models. If we are slow or reluctant to do so, we will decline further.


10. Our 58th Merdeka anniversary is only a few days away and it's worth honestly pondering whether our national fundamentals in all fields are still strong or weakening. Can we live up to the sound values and noble aspirations of our founding fathers like Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Abdul Razak?

Or do we continue to flounder in our weakening fundamentals and stale thinking, from which we may not recover for a long time?

But we can draw from our rich traditional inspiration of Merdeka. With a new national resolve, we can determine to strengthen our weakening national fundamentals.

But for now, the government has to present a plan of action to the rakyat on how to deal with the falling ringgit and failing fundamentals, to prevent state capture and Malaysia from becoming a failed state.

We shall then overcome our present critical problems and move forward to a better Malaysia for all Malaysians.

On a personal note, I was at the Merdeka Stadium as a university student and shouted “Merdeka” with our beloved Tunku Abdul Rahman on our first Merdeka Day in 1957. I still cherish the recollection with emotion.

So let me greet you all: Selamat Hari Merdeka and God bless our beloved country Malaysia! – August 24, 2015.

* Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam is chairman of the ASLI Center for Public Policy Studies.

Read Complete article here.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Diambang Merdeka 2015

Diambang Merdeka 2015 adalah baik jika kita semua Rakyat Malaysia termasuk orang Politik yang jadi Eksekutif  dalam Kerajaan yang parti mereka memenangi mandate untuk memerintah SEMENTARA sehingga PRU yang akan datang dan juga Penjawat Awam yang berpangkat tinggi dan rendah baliklah kepada perkara pokok:


Saya tahu thema Merdeka tahun ini 'sehati sejiwa'...memang molek sungguh dengarnya saya sokong...tapi dalam keadaan politik negara yang tidak berapa nampak selesa semenjak perlucutan jawatan Peguam Negara TS Gani Patail pada 28 Julai 2015 yang lepas, saya harap Rukun Negara ini dihayati semula oleh semua Rakyat Malaysia.


Kesetiaan kita adalah kepada Raja dan Negara, bukan kepada pemimpin politik yang datang dan pergi mengikut  PRU yang datang setiap 5 tahun, maka beringat-ingatlah bila menjalan kan tugas menjaga keselamatan dan kemakmuran Negara kita Malaysia.