Saturday, April 18, 2015


Speaker Dewan Undangan Negeri Sabah Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Salleh Tun Said Keruak pagi Sabtu turun padang meninjau premis perniagaan sekitar pekan Kota Belud untuk melihat sendiri harga barangan yang dijual peniaga. Beliau yang juga Ketua Umno Bahagian Kota Belud diiringi oleh pegawai kanan Kastam, KPDNKK dan pemimpin Umno.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Don’t kill BR1M just to spite the government


Malaysia’s BR1M is being criticised as a scheme to bribe the voters into voting for Barisan Nasional. Judging by the ‘confessions’ in the social media, however, it seems that there are recipients of this aid accept the cash handouts but still vote opposition anyway. They are not in any way enticed into vote government just because the government gives them money.

What Malaysia is doing is not unique and neither is it the first. Many other countries have been doing the same thing for the last decade or two and statistics show that it has been successful in assisting the less fortunate segment of the population in releasing them from the shackles of poverty.

In 2000, a new idea on how to directly help the people other than by just building schools, hospitals and roads and by supplying water and electricity began to emerge. This scheme called ‘conditional cash transfers’ or CCTs first appeared in Latin America and then soon spread all over the world.

It was later copied in Africa and schemes such as ‘Give Directly in Kenya’, which was started by Michael Faye, managed to boost household incomes considerably. Studies show that the scheme succeeded in pulling people out of poverty.

Johannes Haushofer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Jeremy Shapiro, a former board member of Give Directly in Kenya, who randomly selected and studied poor households in 63 villages that have received this aid, say that the number of children going without food for a day has fallen by over a third while livestock holdings have risen by half. A year after the scheme began, incomes had gone up by a quarter.

In Vietnam, in a trial scheme implemented in 2006 where 550 households were given one-off handouts, it was found that two years later the poverty rate had fallen by 20%. The scheme was actually dubbed ‘cash for coffins’ because it was discovered that elderly recipients of this aid spent the money on their funeral arrangements to save their children the problem of finding the money after they die.

In Uganda, US$10,000 is given to groups of 20 people who then spend a third of the money to learn a trade and the balance on tools and livestock. They then set up joint enterprises and over four years their earnings increased by 50%. This scheme has one condition, however -- applicants must first submit a business plan.

In Brazil, the scheme is called Bolsa Família, a program aimed at reducing short-term poverty through direct cash transfers. The Economist describes Bolsa Família as an anti-poverty scheme invented in Latin America that is winning converts worldwide.

Brazil’s Bolsa Família, the centerpiece of ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's social policy, is currently the largest cash transfer program in the world, although the Mexican program, Oportunidades, was the first nation-wide program of its kind.

There are many other such programs all over Africa, Latin America, Asia, etc., and studies done show that they have been successful in bringing people out of poverty. And these programs by whatever name they are called have been a boon to the people who received the aid.

So Malaysia’s RM1M is not a new idea and is not the only one. It is also definitely not the first of its kind. The critics of BR1M argue that the cash aid is a form of bribery aimed at buying votes. It is fine for these people to talk when they do not face financial constraints like those who are receiving this aid are. But all over the world it has been proven that schemes such as BR1M do help those who are in need of such assistance.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

1MDB: Let’s not jump the gun


Penang Umno chairman Zainal Abidin Osman appealed to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to refrain from being too pushy regarding the investigations into 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) affairs.

“Tun Dr Mahathir should be patient and allow the investigations to be completed first,” said Zainal.

He also urged the Auditor-General and the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to expedite their investigations into 1MDB’s many ‘questionable investments’.

This appears to be a statement in support of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, plus a mild rebuttal to Dr Mahathir. However, the insertion of ‘questionable investments’ in that statement gives a hint into what Zainal is thinking -- and that is the investments are indeed dodgy.

The PAC, on the other hand, announced that it may not wait for the Auditor-General’s report before proceeding and may instead press ahead with its own investigation.

As unfair as it may sound, in politics one is considered guilty until proven innocent and one is subjected to trial by the court of public opinion. And this is what is happening with the 1MDB issue.

Basically, it is a classic case of the mob-lynching syndrome.

The opposition, plus those within Umno and Barisan Nasional opposed to the Prime Minister, are giving an impression that RM42 billion of the taxpayers’ money has disappeared or vanished. It has simply gone.

What is the basis for coming to that conclusion? Have the opposition and those other critics of the Prime Minister produced any evidence for believing so or is this based merely on rumours, innuendos and allegations?

The opposition demands justice and the application of the standard of innocent until proven guilty. But in the 1MDB case they practice the reverse and give the excuse that since there is no evidence of innocence then we must assume there is guilt.

We are yet to see 1MDB’s balance sheet. If RM42 billion has disappeared then the balance sheet would certainly reflect this. And the balance sheet would, therefore, show a figure of zero.

How do they know it is zero instead of, say, RM50 billion? The investigation is yet to be completed and no figures have been revealed thus far. So let us see what the figures are before we decide that a crime has indeed been committed.

Is this not the very essence of fairness and justice? Why should Najib Tun Razak be denied this same decency just because he is the Prime Minister?

Monday, April 13, 2015

The logic of the bridge to Singapore


Back in 2006-2007, in his effort to unseat Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad openly and publicly chided the PM for not building the ‘Crooked Bridge’.

The bridge, of course, has to be built crooked because it was going to be only half a bridge on the Malaysian side since Singapore does not agree to a bridge on their side of the Causeway. A straight bridge would be too short and therefore too low while if you want it built high it has to be longer, which means also meandering or crooked.

But why, in the first place, does Malaysia need the bridge to replace the Causeway and why does Singapore resist it?

If the Causeway is maintained ships will not be able to sail through the Johor Straits while a bridge would allow it. So Johor’s ports would benefit from the bridge. This also means the bridge will help Malaysia’s economy grow while it would have the reverse affect to Singapore.

In short, the bridge will improve Malaysia’s import-export trade while it will take away the business from Singapore. So Malaysia will boom while Singapore’s business will decline. And this is why Singapore opposes the bridge and also why Malaysia needs the bridge.

It all boils down to business rivalry between Singapore and Malaysia. Singapore will resist any move to boost Malaysia’s trade because this would rob Singapore of that trade. So anything in Malaysia’s favour would be against the interest of Singapore.

Johor can be the alternative to Singapore, argued Dr Mahathir. In fact, Johor can outgrow Singapore. But for that to happen the bridge first needs to be built. And that is why Dr Mahathir insists that the bridge be built and if the Prime Minister does not also agree then he must be ousted and replaced.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Najib broke his promise, said Dr Mahathir


“He was my hope after Pak Lah resigned. He said he would build the bridge when he became the prime minister even if Singapore opposes to it. But he didn't do.”

“If Singapore does not agree to this, it is not my fault. It is our sovereign right; it is in our own territorial area, territorial waters. Half of that Causeway belongs to us. I'm not touching Singapore’s side.”

“He said he made an agreement with Singapore, where is our independence? Are we part of Singapore?”

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is very angry that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak allegedly broke his promise about building the ‘Crooked Bridge’ to Singapore once he takes over from Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. What upset Dr Mahathir even more is that Najib ‘bends’ to Singapore by not proceeding with the construction of the bridge.

In the first place, the reason it is a crooked bridge and not a straight bridge is because it is going to be half a bridge. The bridge will be built only on the Malaysian side of the Causeway and not on the Singapore side. And this is because Singapore does not want to demolish their side of the Causeway and replace it with a bridge.

Since the Causeway on the Malaysian side is too short, it is impossible to build a straight half bridge or else it will be too steep. The bridge needs to be longer to make the gradient feasible and if it is going to be longer then it cannot be a straight bridge but must meander and be built crooked.

The matter of the bridge itself is not really an issue, as Dr Mahathir said, or even the broken promise. What is the issue is that Singapore opposes the destruction of the historic Causeway for sentimental reasons. So they would like the Causeway to remain. And if Malaysia does not demolish the Causeway then it would be giving in to Singapore.

It is basically a tug-of-war with Singapore and as far as Dr Mahathir is concerned Malaysia must win. But if the ‘Crooked Bridge’ is not going to be built then Singapore would win instead. And this something that Dr Mahathir cannot accept -- losing to Singapore.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Sabah dan Sarawak kekal sebagai simpanan tetap BN: Salleh

 KOTA BELUD:  Sabah dan Sarawak akan tetap menjadi `simpanan tetap' kepada Barisan Nasional (BN) di bawah kepimpinan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Timbalan Pengerusi BadanPerhubungan Umno Sabah, Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Salleh Tun Said, berkata ini kerana rakyat kedua-dua negeri di Borneo ini merasakan Najib adalah Perdana Menteri yang memahami kehendak mereka.

Malah, katanya, Najib secara terbuka mengiktiraf bahawa Sabah dan Sarawak adalah rakan penubuhan negara Malaysia menerusi perisytiharan 16 September sebagai cuti umum.

"Mengambil kira keadaan ini, kita cukup yakin bahawa Sabah dan Sarawak akan tetap menjadi simpanan tetap bagi BN di bawah pimpinan Najib," katanya  selepas merasmikan mesyuarat Jawatankuasa Umno Bahagian Kota Belud di sini hari ini.

Salleh yang juga Speaker Dewan Undangan Negeri Sabah berkata  asas kepada pandangan Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad bahawa BN akan kalah dalam Pilihan Raya Umum (PRU) akan datang, disebabkan maklumat yang diterima bekas Perdana Menteri itu mengenai keadaan di Sabah dan Sarawak adalah tidak tepat.

"Mungkin ada pemimpin yang kecewa memberi maklumat salah kepada beliau (Tun Mahathir). Pada kami, Najib memahami perasaan orang Sabah dan Sarawak, malah sentiasa memenuhi permintaan kita," katanya.

Beliau berkata Najib bersikap terbuka dengan perkara yang dibangkitkan oleh kepimpinan BN diSabah dan Sarawak.

Dalam pada itu, Salleh yang juga Ketua Umno Bahagian Kota Belud menegaskan pendirian Umno bahagian itu menyokong padu kepimpinan Najib untuk terus mentadbir negara dan mengurus parti.

"Kita berpendapat Najib adalah pemimpin yang mampu memenuhi kehendak dan aspirasi rakyat, seterusnya membawa Malaysia mencapai status negara maju berpendapatan tinggi menjelang tahun 2020," katanya.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Time to put the Altantuya issue to rest


In Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s interview last night, he reiterated what he has been saying for many years, that he never met or knew Altantuya Shaariibuu. Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, on the other hand, said that the police investigation at that time revealed that Najib was not involved in her murder.

Three years ago in 2012, Asia Sentinel and other online news sites and Blogs published 153 documents relating to the French police investigation and the subsequent report to the French court that had ordered the investigation. The investigation and report focused on the issue of Altantuya plus the submarine contract.

Document D54 is a statement by the police to the court that there are no records of Altantuya Shaariibuu, Abdul Razak Baginda and/or Najib Tun Razak ever having entered France from 1999, the date the Scorpene submarines were first negotiated, until the day Altantuya was reported murdered. The immigration authorities and the French intelligence also confirmed the same.

Hence the opposition story that Altantuya, Razak and Najib had dinner in Paris where their photograph was taken is not true.

Document D76 presented to the court is a statement to the police by Fredric Faura regarding his role in the submarine contract. The police had asked him whether he had ever met Altantuya or knows who she is and he replied that he had never met her or knows of her. He added that they do not need any translator to transact business with Malaysia since Malaysians can speak perfect English.

Furthermore, all negotiations were done in Malaysia and not in France where the need for a translator was not necessary.

Central to the allegation against Najib is that Altantuya was involved in the submarine deal and had wanted her share of the profits, and that was why she was murdered. The French police, however, have reported that this is not true.