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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Clare Rewcastle Browns spin on Sky TV



Salleh Said Keruak

Last night, Clare Rewcastle Brown of Sarawak Report went on Sky TV news in the UK to talk about her ‘fight’ for Malaysia. She talked at length about how she uncovered evidence of corruption involving the Prime Minister. She did not, however, explain how she had obtained this so-called evidence. In fact, it is alleged that some of the evidence had been tampered or doctored. We know that this ‘evidence’ could not have dropped from the sky so how did she manage to get it? Or did someone give her whatever evidence she claims she obtained because she was actually being used and was a tool of this person to embarrass the Prime Minister.

Those who do not know Malaysia would probably be very impressed with Clare who is trying to give an impression that she is a crusader for truth and justice. Why does Clare not be really truthful and reveal who she is serving and how much that master is paying Sarawak Report because she has confessed that she does receive foreign funding without being transparent enough with the details?

Clare talks as if Najib Tun Razak has already been convicted or indicted of a crime. As a veteran journalist surely Clare knows that one is innocent until and unless proven guilty. Clare, however, talks as if the evidence is conclusive and she knows for a fact that the Prime Minister is guilty just because she says so. Clare is judge, jury and executioner all in one.

Clare is distorting the truth. She talks about the government jailing Anwar Ibrahim on trumped up charges but she did not mention that Anwar refused to take the stand to testify and neither did he summon his dozen or so witnesses to court to support his alibi. In fact, he did not even produce an alibi. And that was why Anwar was convicted and not for the reasons that Clare says.

Clare says that the opposition won more than 50% of the votes, suggesting that it should be the opposition that is in government. I am surprised that Clare is not aware that in the Westminster parliamentary system it is the party that wins the most number of seats that gets to form the government and not the party that wins the most number of votes. Is this not what happened in the UK during the last two elections as well?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What Merdeka Day means


Salleh Said Keruak

Malaysians claim they are loyal Malaysians but we seem to have lost the spirit of nationalism.

In sports we seem to have discarded ethnicity in favour of nationalism and seem to be able to uphold the Malaysian spirit. And that used to be the same for Merdeka Day as well. We were able to come together as Malaysians and not be divided by separate celebrations according to race, religion or political leanings.

But sadly that now seems to have changed. Can’t we just for one day put our political divide aside and come together as Malaysians? The impression being given is that there are going to be two Merdeka celebrations, one for those opposed to the government. Merdeka Day is not about whether you support the government or the opposition. It is about your love for your country.

We should be marching together, united as Malaysians, although we may be of different races, religions and political leanings. We can disagree on politics but that should be where our disagreements end. We should not take that disagreement further and create two Malaysians.

We say we are Malaysians. We say we are loyal to our country. We say we are prepared to sacrifice for our nation. But we are not prepared to sacrifice our political differences for just one day to come together united as Malaysians.

Can we not restore Merdeka Day to what it used to be and not use that celebration as the platform for politics? Merdeka is about love, love for our country, not about hate for each other because we do not share the same political ideals.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

DAP is spinning a bit too far



Salleh Said Keruak

Charles Santiago, the DAP Member of Parliament for Kelang, wrote today, “A whopping RM42 billion has simply vanished from the state-owned sovereign fund, the brainchild of Najib.”

Charles added, “He is yet to say what has happened to the cash. Najib has also not come up with a plausible story for the RM2.6 billion, which found its way into the premier’s personal bank account.”

An explanation regarding 1MDB has already been given with the breakdown of the RM42 billion. Yet Santiago says that RM42 billion has ‘simply vanished’.

Santiago then says Najib has also not come up with a plausible story regarding the RM2.6 billion. Has he not been following the news? Not only has the matter been explained but also many people, some who are privy to the matter, have also made statements.

The bottom line is they keep asking the same questions over and over again while ignoring the replies to the questions and pretend as if no response has been given. And RM42 billion has not ‘simply vanished’ as Santiago alleges.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Malaysia is not all bad news



Salleh Said Keruak

The opposition and the critics of the government are painting a bleak scenario that Malaysia is on the verge of bankruptcy and that Malaysia is amongst the ranks of the failed states. In short, there is only bad news and no good news in Malaysia.

The World Bank, however, in its latest report ‘Doing Business 2015: Going Beyond Efficiency’ says that Malaysia continues to rank among the top 20 economies worldwide and first among emerging economies in East Asia on the ease of doing business.

In fact, Malaysia, which the year before ranked 20th globally, now ranks 18th.

The World Bank report shows that, since 2005, Malaysia has improved its business regulatory framework through 17 reforms in the areas measured by the report—compared with the global average of 12 reforms per economy in that period. Malaysia has therefore narrowed the gap with some of the best practices worldwide.

In June this year, the World Bank said that the introduction of GST and elimination of fuel subsidies has helped Malaysia weather the oil price shock, but further reforms are required to ensure medium-term fiscal targets are met.

Malaysia is a highly open upper-middle income economy, said the World Bank. Malaysia was one of 13 countries identified by the Commission on Growth and Development in its 2008 Growth Report to have recorded average growth of more than 7% per year for 25 years or more.

Economic growth was inclusive, as Malaysia also succeeded in nearly eradicating poverty. The share of households living below the national poverty line (USD 8.50 per day in 2012) fell from over 50% in the 1960s to less than 1% currently.

Malaysia’s near-term economic outlook remains overall favourable, said the World Bank, despite some risks. The economy has diversified from commodities and the Government has taken steps to broaden the revenue base. Short-term risks include further declines in oil prices and volatility in capital flows from the normalisation of US monetary policy. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Malaysia is facing an economic sabotage



Salleh Said Keruak

The latest reports from Thailand say that the bomb blast in Bangkok yesterday was meant to sabotage Thailand’s economy. Thailand’s economy is quite dependent on tourism where around 15 million people a year visit Thailand, about 30% of that from China.

That was why the bombers targeted one of the busiest districts in Bangkok that would normally be packed with tourists and shoppers. It is reported that many of the 100 or so injured and dead were Chinese and Taiwanese.

Economic sabotage is a very powerful weapon in bringing down governments, sometimes even more potent than military action. And Malaysia is no less being spared this same economic sabotage, although not in the way they are doing it in Thailand.

In Malaysia’s case, they are going all out to undermine the credibility of the government. Western media consultants are being engaged to spin stories in foreign publications and blogs about corrupt acts being committed by the Prime Minister and about Malaysia’s economy on the verge of bankruptcy.

And to strengthen this allegation there are even efforts to attack the Ringgit to ‘prove’ that the world has totally lost confidence in Malaysia. The picture being presented is that a lower Ringgit means that Malaysia is headed for doom. They even say that Malaysia is amongst those regarded as ‘failed states’.

This is not only mischievous but treasonous as well. Economic sabotage, especially one that is engineered and financed by Malaysians, is without a doubt an act of treason. These traitors must be exposed and appropriate action be taken against them.

No longer must the country be allowed to suffer just to satisfy the political ambitions of those who wish to oust the government and grab power through unconstitutional means.

Monday, August 17, 2015

MCMC POISED TO MEET FACEBOOK,GOOGLE, TWITTER SOON TO CURB FALSE INFORMATION


 SALLEH SAID KERUAK

The issue of false information has recently taken centre stage in the media, especially online news portals.

In this respect,I have instructed the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to meet social media platform providers -- Facebook (FB), Google and Twitter soon to seek their cooperation to stem the increasing tide of false information and rumours from spreading via their social media applications.

Although these three social media platform providers have been cooperating with various Malaysian authorities, the level of cooperation needs to be stepped up.

In fact, there are laws in Malaysia governing the spread of false and unverified information, and it is a breach of these laws for such information to be posted and made accessible to the public. 

At this point of time, although it is possible for authorities to restrict access or block such applications, they will not do so as the majority of social media users are using such applications positively and not for negative or reprehesive purposes.

However, this does not mean that the public can post information unchecked without respect or regard to the law. The online environment is not a lawless space and action can be taken against anyone found to have breached the law, including in the online space.

Bear in mind that publishing or posting sensitive or unverified information might potentially spark an untoward situation likely to jeopardise public safety. 

As a responsible government, it has an obligation to protect its citizens from harm, including threats posed by postings in the social media and internet.
    
As such, deeper cooperation from social media providers is vital in the public interest to help authorities to uphold the laws and keep citizens of this country safe from harm. 

For instance, in 2014, approximately 78 percent of MCMC's requests for removal of content were acted upon by social media providers, with FB acting aproximately 81 per cent of MCMC's requests.

Latest figures as at end of July 2015 shows that 49 percent have been acted upon, 33 percent by YouTube, 42 percent by Facebook. While social media providers have been cooperative, we are requesting them to be more sensitive with our local environment.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Conspiring to topple government, undemocratic - Salleh



Hamzah Hamid, Astro Awani
August 16, 2015 10:50 MYT

KUALA LUMPUR: Conspiring with outsiders to topple the government is an undemocratic act as the political landscape of the nation should only be determined by Malaysians, Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak said.

He said there must be a basis to such claims as Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi himself had spoke about it.

“We are a government elected by the people. Any changes, if any, must be done during general election as the GE is the time for us to compete in politics,” he said when met during the cycling event, Kayuhan Sehati Sejiwa, today.

He said during GE, both sides of the political divide will present their economic and political policies and the people can determine which party should rule.

“What is wrong is when we are involved in attempts to topple the government undemocratically where we conspire with certain quarters especially now that the involvement of foreign money is proven in determining Malaysia’s political landscape,” he added.

Salleh cited the Sarawak report as an example of a media owned by a foreigner who try to manipulate facts with tampered documents.

He said the only place for the people to make their choices is at the polls.

“The people have given the mandate to the Barisan Nasional to rule during the last GE. So, we should be given the trust to continue carrying out our policies. That is democratic principles,” he added.

On Saturday, a certain leader from UMNO is involved in attempts to topple the government, Ahmad Zahid said.

“I do not want to reveal it.... but I can smell it. This leader is hoping for the support of 87 Opposition MPs and an Independent MP to overthrow the government using a back door,” said Ahmad Zahid at the Ampang UMNO division yearly meeting

Bersekongkol untuk guling kerajaan satu tindakan tidak demokratik - Salleh


Oleh Hamzah Hamid, Astro Awani
Ogos 16, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR: Perbuatan bersekongkol dengan pihak luar untuk menggulingkan kerajaan adalah tindakan yang tidak demokratik kerana hala tuju politik Malaysia sepatutnya ditentukan oleh rakyat negara ini sendiri, kata Menteri Komunikasi dan Multimedia Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak.

Beliau berkata demikian sebagai reaksi kepada kenyataan Timbalan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi yang mengatakan terdapat komplot pihak tertentu, termasuk daripada parti UMNO, yang mahu menggulingkan kerajaan sedia ada.

"Pada saya TPM telah membuat kenyataan sedemikian, sudah tentulah ada asasnya. Kita mengamalkan satu sistem negara yang berdemokrasi dan kita adalah sebuah kerajaan yang dipilih oleh rakyat.

"Sebarang perubahan, jika berlaku, seharusnya dilakukan semasa Pilihan Raya Umum (PRU) kerana PRU itu adalah tempat kita untuk bersaing dalam politik," ujar beliau yang ditemui dalam program berbasikal Kayuhan Sehati Sejiwa di ibu negara hari ini.

Menurut Salleh, parti pemerintah ataupun parti lawan akan menghidangkan dasar ekonomi dan politk masing-masing dan rakyat akan menentukan parti mana yang mereka rasa harus jadi parti pemerintah.

"Yang salah ialah apabila kita terlibat dalam percubaan menggulingkan kerajaan secara tidak demokratik di mana kita bersekongkol dengan pihak-pihak tertentu apatah lagi sekarang ini terbukti sangat di mana keterlibatan warga negara asing dalam menentukan hala tuju politik Malaysia," ujar beliau.

Salleh memberi contoh media di internet seperti Sarawak Report yang dimiliki warga negara asing yang didakwanya cuba memutarbelitkan fakta dan memesongkan pemikiran rakyat dengan mempamerkan dokumen-dokumen yang telah diubah.

Beliau percaya bahawa rakyat berkuasa menentukan segalanya dan PRU adalah wadah untuk membuat pilihan.

"Sementara ini, rakyat sudah memberi mandat kepada Barisan Nasional (BBN) untuk jadi parti pemerintah dengan kemenangan yang selesa pada PRU lalu. Maka kita harus diberi kepercayaan untuk meneruskan dan melaksanakan dasar-dasar yang telah diumumkan.

"Itulah prinsip demokrasi," ujar beliau.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

When Dr Mahathir, too, received Arab money


Salleh Said Keruak

Over 30 years ago, the then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad wanted to set up the International Islamic University. It was estimated that it would have cost the government at least RM1 billion or so, especially to develop the campus on the 700 acre site in Gombak.

Taking into consideration the inflation factor, what was worth RM1 billion back in 1983 would be worth many more times that today. Therefore, if we want to do exactly the same thing today, what would cost RM1 billion in 1983 would cost tens of billions today.

To finance what can be regarded as a huge project back in 1983, Dr Mahathir sought the financial support of the Middle East countries and eight countries from the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) agreed to sponsor the setting up of the university.

To say, therefore, that Dr Mahathir during his time never sought and received help from the Arabs is not true. In fact, Dr Mahathir not only sought and received help from the Arab countries but he did so from a number of Arab countries.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Drop of the Ringgit



Salleh Said Keruak


China has dropped the value of the Yuan in a second day in a row. Economists have said that there is both good and bad in that happening but overall China is going to benefit with a lower Yuan. And that has made many countries worried because the positives outnumber the negatives and are in China’s favour.

Germany is being criticised for taking advantage of the lower Euro. The Euro is tied to countries like Portugal, Greece, Italy, Spain, etc., and because of the weak economies of those countries the Euro (at RM4.50) is lower than the British Pound (RM6.30).

The critics say that if Germany was still using the Mark instead of the Euro then German goods and services would be higher than they are now. But because Germany uses the Euro then it has an unfair advantage to the rest of the world.

In other words, the lower Euro is good for Germany and Germany is benefiting from it. Although that may be unfair it is not immoral or illegal as this is how the system works and all Germany is doing is it is taking advantage of a system that already exists.

Whether it is good or bad that a country’s currency is lower depends on how that country benefits from it. From the point of tourism and exports it is, of course, good. From the point of foreign debts and imports it would be the reverse.

So before we jump to conclusions and say that a lower Ringgit is 100% bad we need to analyse the overall situation and add the plusses to the minuses and decide what the overall and long-term outlook is going to be to the country.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

What regulating the Internet means



Salleh Said Keruak

Even before details of what I meant can be revealed the opposition is already jumping to conclusions and is accusing the government of trying to stifle free speech. Maybe they should learn to wait and see what happens first before throwing accusations at the government.

Let me give you some examples of what I am talking about.

Section 1 of the United Kingdom’s Malicious Communications Act 1988 criminalises sending another person any article which is indecent or grossly offensive with an intent to cause distress or anxiety.

Section 127 of the United Kingdom’s Communications Act 2003 makes it an offence to send a message that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character over a public electronic communications network.

To strike a balance between freedom of speech and criminality, the Director of Public Prosecutions issued guidelines, clarifying when social messaging is eligible for criminal prosecution under UK law.

Then we have the English defamation laws that come into play.

UK’s libel laws apply to Internet publishing. However, the time limit of one year after publication for libel suits does not apply to Internet publishing because each incidence of material being accessed on the Internet is defined as a new publication. As a result, many newspapers and journals do not publish controversial material in their on-line archives due to a fear of potential libel suits.

Then we have contempt of court issues to take into consideration.

In the UK there is a limit to freedom of speech and freedom of speech would exclude prior restraint, restrictions on court reporting including names of victims and evidence and prejudicing or interfering with court proceedings, prohibition of post-trial interviews with jurors, and scandalising the court by criticising or murmuring judges.

The use of social media to comment on a legal case can constitute contempt of court, resulting in the fine or imprisonment of the social media user and there have been a number of instances of users of social media being prosecuted for contempt of court.

So, when we look at what revisions are required, we will also study what can be considered ‘the norm’ in advanced countries that uphold freedom of speech. We will try to make sure that Malaysia will follow the international standards. However, even in the ‘free’ and ‘liberal’ west there are limitations as to what you can say and publish. And this is what Malaysians need to understand.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

When you disagree with the government



Salleh Said Keruak

On 3rd August, the British government sold off 5.4% of the shares that it owned in the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) at £3.30 per share that it bought seven years ago at £5.00 per share. This resulted in a loss of more than £1 billion for the UK government.

The British government was forced to bail out RBS in 2008 at a cost of £45 billion plus give it access to cheap funds to keep it afloat. However, after seven years the bank has still not turned around and is still losing money.

This latest move attracted criticism from the opposition that felt the bank should be nationalised instead of privatised. It also questioned the government’s decision to ‘lose’ £1 billion in sell off.

The reason I am raising this is to bring to your attention that such things do happen, even in so-called more advanced and transparent countries such as the UK. And actually it was not the first multi-billion loss that the British government had to suffer.

But the British opposition, while it objects to the move, does not ask the people to take to the streets and riot so that the government can be brought down through violent means. It disagrees with the government action but it still can look at the whole thing with maturity.

It is time that the Malaysian opposition, too, became more mature and not treat any disagreement with any government decision as a reason to take to the streets and riot.

This street culture is what brought down governments in many Asian and Middle Eastern countries. However, the changes that happened after that were not always for the better and many times the country became even worse.

Malaysia needs an opposition but an opposition that is more responsible. History has shown that any government that is changed through violent means is later also brought down through the same violent means. And Malaysia’s racial balance is too delicate to take such risks.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

When you can never satisfy the critics



Salleh Said Keruak

This is a classic case of you can never satisfy the critics. They will demand that you do what they want and when you submit to their demands they will still not be happy.

The Prime Minister’s critics alleged that Najib Tun Razak stole RM2.6 billion of 1MDB’s money and transferred it to his personal bank account. They then demanded to know whether this was true. When Najib ignored their demands they got angry.

The truth is whatever Najib would have said would never satisfy those asking for his explanation. So Najib allowed the Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate the matter and get to the truth.

MACC then announced that the money was not from 1MDB but was from a donor. That was what they demanded to know and that was what MACC confirmed.

Now some want to know why it took so long to confirm that. Why could they have not confirmed that on the first day? Others want to know whether the donation came with strings attached because surely a donation that size would come with terms and conditions.

So what is the issue now? Should they not be happy that the money was not stolen from 1MDB as alleged? That is what they demanded to know and that was what MACC confirmed.

If Najib tells them that the donation did not come with strings attached would they believe him?

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The CMA needs to be reviewed to keep up with the times



Salleh Said Keruak

Recent developments have shown that the government will need to review the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA). Malaysians seem to have the impression that the Internet and social media is a lawless domain where anything goes and where there are no rules to follow. That is actually not so.

When the CMA was first enacted in 1998, the government did not envisage how popular the Internet would become and how rapid and widespread the usage of the social media would be. Today, the Internet and social media has become a necessary tool of everyday life that impacts not only the flow of information but finance and commerce as well.

It will not be surprising if in the not too distant future everything will be done entirely on the Internet, as what has happened in some countries where the only way to get things done is on the Internet. Some airlines, for example, insist that travellers use their Internet check-in facility so without the Internet you cannot even travel.

What is of concern is that the popular, and sometimes necessary, use of the Internet has also attracted various Internet crimes such as fraud, data theft, identity theft, and fabrication of false news and fake documents. In many countries this is considered a very serious crime that attracts long jail terms.

While Malaysia will uphold freedom of speech and the right to information, we must also protect Malaysians from libel and slander, plus character assassination. In no country in the world does freedom of speech include the freedom to lie and slander. National security and public order are also of concern and which can be jeopardised if there were no proper controls over what people do and say.

We must, therefore, review the CMA so that we can strike a balance between not stifling free speech and continuing with freedom of information while at the same time protecting Malaysians from criminal acts that appear to have become the trend of late.

We will, of course, obtain the opinion and feedback of those in the industry to ensure that a more holistic approach is achieved so that it meets the objective of all concerned. This is to assure the public that this move is not aimed at stifling free speech or at curtailing the freedom of information.