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Thursday, October 16, 2008


A retired Armed Forces Captain, Datuk Zahar Hashim claims there were discrepancies in the tender process which led to French-German aviation firm, Eurocopter, winning the bid to supply the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) with 12 Cougar EC725 long-range tactical transport helicopters to replace the aging Nuri helicopters. The new Cougar choppers will cost the government an estimated RM2.3 billion.

As a military aviation enthusiast, I have been following the progress of the government's intention to replace the aging Nuri choppers with great interest, hoping that the folks at the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) would make a good choice for RMAF's long term use. I was quite happy when the government announced it has made a decision to purchase the Cougars, outbidding 3 other short-listed contenders - the American-made Sikorsky S92; the EH-101 (AW-101) Merlin of British-Italian firm Agusta Westland; and Russia's Mil Mi-17 Hip manufactured by Kazan Helicopters (under license from Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant which is the original manufacturer). I had always anticipated that it was either going to be the Cougar, Sikorsky or the Merlin, based on RMAF's requirement for a long-range versatile chopper with high capability for troop transportation and Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR). The Mil Mi-17 on the other hand, is more popular among Eastern bloc nations, with slightly older technology and less options / compatibility to be fitted with current state-of-the-art avionics and eletronic warfare systems.

To me, Zahar's two letters dated Oct 7 and 9, addressed to Deputy Prime Minister and former Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (also copied to the Prime Minister's Office, the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), the Public Accounts Committee and the Public Complaints Bureau) is a classic case of being a sourgrape. Obviously angry because his company Mentari Services Sdn Bhd who represented Kelowna Flightcraft of Canada (for Kazan Helicopters) lost the bid, he is now out to get Najib and those at Mindef, hoping to get full support from the Prime Minister, the ACA and the Member of Parliaments in the PAC.

I feel sad because a sore loser is attempting to screw up the purchase of a helicopter with a proven track record, both during peace and war times. Of course good things come at a price. Here's a simple analogy. Why do people spend a bomb to buy Mercedes Benz or BMW when they can get a Japanese, Korean or even Malaysian marque for a quarter of the price they originally paid for the mentioned German marques? Well, obviously the Benz or the Beemer offers something beyond what Malaysian-made vehicles has - be it performance, ride, handling, safety and other creature comforts, not to the mention state-of-the art features and other options.

Okay, let's look at another analogy which favours Malaysian-made cars, just to be fair. Let's talk about Russian-made cars. Would you rather be seen in a box-like Lada or the sleek Proton Gen-2? Common sense would tell you, of course the latter which is definitely sexier and ages apart in terms of technology from every aspect. The fact remains until today that Russian made cars such as Lada, Gaz, Moskyith and Iz are poorly designed and highly questionable in terms of reliability. But one thing is for sure, they are bloody cheap.

Which brings us to the Russian-made Mil Mi-17 Hip chopper, rejected by Mindef in favour of the Cougar. First and foremost, Zahar's company Mentari Services is obviously several layers down from the chopper's original parent company back in Russia. It is quite baffling when Zahar claimed his company is representing Kelowna Flightcraft of Canada, which is in fact merely an aviation Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) company in British Columbia which I suspect is the marketing agent for Kazan helicopters in Canada. Even if Mindef decided to choose the Mil Mi-17 choppers, it would be much cheaper for the government to deal direct with Kazan Helicopters or better still, Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant in Russia. Why even the need to deal with Mentari Services which obviously would charge hefty commissions and other hidden / discreet charges anyway? The Malayian government already have a good relationship with the Russian government, having purchased the MIG-29N and Sukhoi MKM-30 air superiority fighters under direct negotiations with the sole Russian government defence-related exporting arm, Rosoboronexport. In fact, the purchase of Mil Mi-17 would have had to be made through Rosobornexport which handles all sales of Russian arms to the international market.

Zahar also claims that the government could have save RM1.5 billion by opting for the Mil Mi-17 instead of the Cougar. He said that the government could have bought 30 units of the Mil Mi-17 for the amount paid to Eurocopter for the 12 Cougars. This is a clear cut case of quantity versus quality. We have lost too many airmen already each time a Nuri crashes. Will Zahar will be responsible for more lives if the Mil Mi-17 malfunctions mid-air?

Although I welcome the ACA and PAC's move to probe the Eurocopter deal, I hope the investigations would be done professionally and objectively with inputs and feedbacks from those who are experts in military aviation - the RMAF especially must play a pivotal role in defending their selection for the Cougars during the inquiry. When it comes to selecting the Nuri replacements, there should be no compromise for quality and safety. The MPs in the PAC especially, should not use this issue for political mileage. The business of defending our country's sovereignty via land, sea or air is no joke. It comes with a price. Just look at the defence budget for our southern neighbour and we'll know why. The last thing we want is Malaysia once again being the laughing stock for poor selection of defence equipments and arms. For this matter, the Opposition or potential opportunitist itching to capitalise on this issue for their own mileage should just shut up and leave it to our capable people at Mindef to handle this because it is their business to ensure the country is safe, with the aid of good defence capabilities. And don't even think of using the "waste of taxpayers' money" card for this one. As a taxpayer myself, I want my money to be spent on good defence equipment. I don't want my money to be associated with mediocre defence technology...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


The decision by the Malacca State government to confer the Darjah Mulia Seri Melaka (DMSM) which carries the title "Datuk" to Bollywood hearthrob, Shah Rukh Khan makes me more convinced that the Malacca Datukship is one of the "cheapest" in terms of prestige and credibility, compared to other states. In fact, a harsher Malay word for it would be "koman."

I regard the conferment to Shah Rukh Khan as the "pinnacle of mediocracy" by the State government which has a tendency to award Datukships to any Tom, Dick and Harry.

Having served a former senior federal-level politician some years back (who also had the honour of being bestowed with a Malacca Datukship at that time), I noticed that the list of recipients for that particular year was not even close to being credible, authoritative and having done great services to the State, let alone the country. My conclusion at that time was, if you were a politician or government officer having served in Malacca for a couple of years and was in the good books of the Chief Minister or Yang Dipertua Negeri (Governor), then you're set to at least get the entry-level DMSM. Oh, and let's not forget the typical "mengampu" businessmen and lobbyists too.

Yesterday, the Artistes Association of Malaysia (Seniman) also filed an official protest over Malacca's move to make Shah Rukh Khan a Datuk at a press conference by its president Datuk Mustapha Maarof who said the Datukship for Shah Rukh belittles the credibility and creativity of local talent. And so did Film Directors Association of Malaysia president Ahmad Ibrahim (Mat London) who was convinced that Shah Rukh doesn't even know what being a Datuk meant. And I totally agree with him, which explains why Shah Rukh didn't even bother to attend the investiture ceremony in conjunction with the Governor's birthday last Saturday. He was probably sipping cocktail in his mansion in Mumbai and said "Yeah, whatever" when his assistant conveyed him the happy news that he was now a Datuk.

I think I know the real reason behind the Datukship conferment. It's plain simple. Shah Rukh comes to Malacca for a special investiture ceremony next month, haves lunch or hi-tea with the Governor, Chief Minister and other State VIPs and then attends a meet-the-fans session in town to press some flesh, if he even bothers. And then he might shoot a scene from his latest movie somewhere in Banda Hilir and returns to India. And in a few months time, local die-hard fans of Shah Rukh will eagerly storm cinemas nationwide to catch a glimpse of Malacca again, just like they did in "One Two Ka Four" where one of the song scenes of the movie was shot in A Famosa Resort, Alor Gajah. This is how pathetic we have become, endlessly attempting to piggy-back on almost any opportunity which comes our way, all in the name of promoting our country for tourism purposes.

I'm going end this post with my two-cents worth of advice to the Malacca State government regarding conferment of Datukships to the undeserving, in my mother tongue - "Sudah sudah lah tu."

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Conscience Is Still Clear - ISA Must Be Maintained

Those of you opposing the Internal Security Act (ISA) or Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri better think again. In the first place, what makes you think that the silent majority wants this so-called draconian law to be abolished in the first place? Mana you all tau yang orang lain nak ISA dimansuhkan? For all you know, the ones supporting ISA outnumber you in figures more than you can possibly imagine.

Here's my point - NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW. The arrest of Sin Chew Daily's Tan Hoon Cheng was necessary to dilute the thickness of the current racial sensitivity issue. Lagipun, she was only detained for 18 hours and the Home Minister already said that it was for her own personal safety jugak. If I was Tan, I'd feel honoured because I got the red carpet treatment from the police who is concerned about my safety.

Sometimes I wonder, our tendency to criticise the police lately, does this mean we could do a better job if we were them? Kalau pandai sangat bab-bab policing ni, why the hell didn't you all signed up to join the force upon graduation or after leaving school dulu? The Royal Malaysian Police's business is ensuring public order and national internal security. Faham tak? They know best how to handle the situation. Cut them some slack okay?

As for Teresa Kok and Raja Petra, it was high time they were detained under ISA. Teresa should have known better than to meddle with sensitive religious matters where in this case, she said that the Azan (call for prayers) should not be allowed to be amplified on loudspeakers at the mosques. What does she expect? That the Malay Muslims would say "Duly noted, YB Teresa, the Azan is gone with immediate effect?"

Many of you will hate what I'm going to say next but what the hell. I'm going to say it anyway. For far too long, the Malays have been too accomodating and because of that, finally, after 51 years, the non-Malays are showing their true colours and making their move like a lion waiting to pounce on the zebra. Teresa Kok wants to complain about the Azan. But have we Malays ever complained in public about the noise that the Chinese make during Chinese New Year - the deafening lion dances, the fire crackers, the stuffed pig right in front of our homes etc.? Pernah tak? Tak pernah! And the same goes for Thaipusam - have we ever complained about the massive traffic jams and road closures we have to endure to enable the Hindu Gods to have a clear passage from Petaling Street to Batu Caves? Pernah tak? Tak pernah!

Why? Because we Malays respect other people's right to practice their own beliefs and religions. But when someone like Teresa Kok starts making statements like these, of course hati orang Melayu akan terguris. And I expect all Malays reading this to concur. Because if you don't, then you lots are the ones who are going to make the Malays end up at the very bottom of the social hierarchy in this country in no time - just like the Malays in Singapore.We Malays are not racists. It is the non-Malays whom are testing our patience. Don't push it!

I am ending this note with a quote by Allahyarham Tun Abdul Razak, our second Prime Minister."SEKIRANYA ORANG-ORANG MELAYU GEMBIRA, MAKA ORANG-ORANG LAIN JUGA AKAN GEMBIRA DI NEGARA INI"

Think about it and re-think your thoughts on ISA. Tolong bersyukur, be grateful for what we have enjoyed and benefited so far. It is because laws such as ISA that we can sleep tight at night.

Semoga Allah s.w.t. merahmati tanahairku Malaysia....

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

When Our Numero Uno Soldier Speaks

Some may dismiss it as just another government official making a statement in response to the current political situation. But when the Panglima Angkatan Tentera or Armed Forces Chief talks, even if it was a mere whisper, you listen. And listen carefully.

Yesterday, our number one military officer, General Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Zainal called on the government to take stern action on anyone who raises racial issues as it is a serious matter which can threaten the security of the nation.

"Racial issues should not be raised as they are a threat to national security," he said, in light of the many polemics recently in relation to racial issues.

It wasn't just a call. It was a warning. And it applies to all, regardless of your political alignment. Whether you are UMNO, MCA, MIC, Gerakan, PPP, PKR, PAS or DAP. It doesn't matter whether you are Malay, Chinese, Indians, Punjabi or Chindian.

Just because many Malaysians believe that the country is drastically changing after the March 8 General Election does not mean that our security forces - both the police and armed forces are taking the situation lying down. No way. Just because some bloggers think they are God now because people read the rubbish they write in cyberspace does not mean that the country's administrative and security protocols which have been in place for the past few decades have been jeorpadised or weakened. Dream on.

Those of you who are fond of criticising our men in uniform lately better think again. The Royal Malaysian Police and the Malaysian Armed Forces already have in place their standard operating procedures to ensure public order and national security remain intact. Don't even think for a minute that they have become lackadaisical. They are pretty much alert. I know because I have close friends in the police, Army, Navy, Air Force and even the newly formed MMEA.

Just because the HINDRAF demonstrators got away relatively scot-free is not an indication that our security forces have gone soft. The Army could have deployed their tanks and armoured cars to crush the demonstrators if they wanted to. Let's recap history which took place not so long ago, in 1989 to be exact. Remember the Tiananmen Square protests? The Chinese government simply deployed hundreds of People's Liberation Army tanks and armoured personnel carrier to suppress and crush the protestors. The two-month long series of protests by intellectuals, activists and students which began in mid April was ended in less than a day using the might of the military. And guess what, the same Chinese government is still in power, the same people who organised the recently concluded 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. How about that?

Morale of the story - DO NOT underestimate the capabilities of the Malaysian Armed Forces. Our soldiers have an awesome reputation globally and this is recognised even by their counterparts in the United States and United Kingdom.

These boys have sacrificed a lot to ensure that we continue to enjoy a peaceful life in Malaysia. While they are patrolling our borders in the middle of the night, most of us are tucked comfortably in bed, snoring like nobody's business. And why can we snore like nobody's business? Because a soldier on duty that night said "Sleep tight my fellow countrymen. The only possible threat to you tonight are mosquitos. Leave the rest to me. Nothing else will bother you. Not on my watch...."

Thursday, August 7, 2008


For the past few days, several prominent bloggers such as Rocky, Sheih Azidi (Kickdefella), Haris Ibrahim (People's Parliament) and Eric Woon (I Am A Malaysian) has been dramatically urging Malaysians to fly the Jalur Gemilang flag upside down as a sign of protest for the current state of affairs in the country, which they claim and coined as "a nation in distress."

Dia orang ni drama lah. They accuse the BN Federal Government of causing grief and unhappiness to the rakyat, to the extent that since the March 8 general election, they claimed that Malaysia has lost its economic competitiveness, causing foreign investors to shy away and opt for other more investor-friendly nations such as Vietnam, China, India and of course Singapore (dia orang ni semua kalau bab memuji Singapore nombor satu - tapi tak nak le pulak pergi duduk terus kat situ). But these are also the same people who spread tales such as these in their blogs, indoctrinating the minds of Malaysia's younger generations - making their readers believe that Malaysia is really in state of distress and the "rakyat is left to rot" as so eloquently said by Eric Woon in his I Am A Malaysia blog.

Apa yang nation in distress-nya? Someone please stand up and give me a convincing answer. For starters, these bloggers - while preaching to the whole country that Malaysia is in a mess, are not exactly hardcore poor, living in dilapidated huts somewhere in some remote kampung in Jerantut, Pahang without water and electricity, not to mention internet connection for them to spread more "blown out of proportion" tales in their blogs. Most bloggers are actually professionals - lawyers, doctors, engineers, businessmen, accountants, public relations executive etc. etc. whom are quite well off - driving fancy cars, gulping RM20 ringgit frapuccinos or whatever cinos from Starbucks and lives in swanky condos somewhere in Bukit Antarabangsa or Bangsar. And they claim Malaysia is in distress. These buggers should be sent to Sudan or Mauritania for a month - there they offer you first class "nation in distress" package. Nak sangat ke jadi nation in distress? I just don't get these anti-establishment lots.

Pokok pangkalnya, kita kena sentiasa bersyukur dengan apa yang dah kita nikmati selama ni. Just be thankful. Ini tak. Forever complaining and whining - itu tak betul, ini tak betul. To me, if the PM, DPM and Cabinet Ministers are filthy rich (memang dah kaya pun), so be it. I don't see any problem. Biarlah dia orang nak kaya. Yang kita nak dengki sangat kenapa? If you wanna experience wealth, then work for it. Don't simply accuse rich people and rich politicians of acquiring their wealth due to cronyism or nepotism or connections. Who are we to tell or judge that these people got rich through illegitimate ways? For all you know, they worked hard for it. My parents are quite well off - living in a nice big bungalow with 3 fancy cars. You got a problem with that? Does that make us bad people? Think again. I am thankful and proud because my parents are the humblest people that I know - helping the needy sedaya mungkin, driving up north to Perak frequently to visit the orphanages which they helped build and develop, organising weekly religious classes and ceramahs at their home and why? Because they are thankful for what Allah swt. have given them. Ini tak - asyik complain, complain, complain - entah-entah sembahyang pun tak cukup lima waktu. Yang dia orang besarkan gathering of bloggers to further condemn and criticise the establishment. Daripada buat benda-benda macam tu, lebih baik ke masjid ke, church ke or their respective temples.

I'll give you a simple scenario why I believe our country is still okay. Do we see daily riots and people looting the streets, robbing convenience shops and creating chaos, disrupting public order? Tak ada kan? Remember when Indonesians ransacked (I think destroyed is a better word) the American hypermarket Wal-Mart in suburban Jakarta almost a decade ago because the economy in that country was so bad? Do you see that happening in Malaysia. So far tak ada kan? To me, that is my definition of nation in distress.

We still have enough money to eat, pay our bills, car instalments, home loan etc. Siap ada disposable income lagi - kalau tak tak kan le shopping sakan macam beruk almost every week, sale or no sale.

Bloggers yang macam gini bukannya apa, yang sebenarnya exicted sangat sebab Pakatan Rakyat managed to topple BN in four states and denied them the 2/3 majority in Parliament. Konon-kononya moving forward for change lah tu. Some even had the cheek to say that for 51 years, Malaysia did not really achieve anything pun. I quote Eric Woon "51 years of no-sense". Kepala hotak dia orang.

My message to people like these senang aje - if you don't like the current arrangements, please feel free to pack up and leave. If you are a true Malaysian, then you must respect the Federal Constitution, especially Article 152 and Article 153 which also includes the social contract. I'm not going to waste my time elaborating on what the social contract is. You know and I know what it is. Again, if you don't like it - I'm sure the United States of America, Canada or Australia would be more than willing to accomodate people like you so that their Chinatowns of San Francisco, New York, Toronto or Sydney would be merrier.

Nation in distress, konon. Tak reti nak bersyukur langsung.

Monday, August 4, 2008



This is too much already. I cannot believe my eyes when I read a comment posted in Lim Kit Siang's blog last week (July 22nd). (

The comment was posted by a reader known as KCB (obviously non-Muslim), regarding Kit Siang's blog post entitled "UMNO-PAS Malay Unity Talks".

In that post, Kit Siang criticised Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for holding talks with PAS in a move which he sees as steering away from the "Malaysian Malaysia" concept of which he and DAP are championing.

I don't really care about what Kit Siang said in his post because everybody knows his stand on the matter.

And as usual, readers supported Kit Siang in the comments thread by further shelling Abdullah, claiming that the UMNO-PAS talks was a move to uphold Malay supremacy and will lead to severe racial polarization in the country. That is fine with me because knowing Kit Siang, he would only publish comments supporting his views of the day.

But I cannot accept the comment posted by KCB in the comment thread. It was totally irrelevant and worse, it ridiculed Muslims. This is the comment :

kcb Says: Yesterday at 14: 38.52
Now I know why some people have to pray 5 times a day!!!

That comment was totally disrespectful and most insensitive. For KCB's information, it is compulsory for all Muslims to perform prayers 5 times a day - Subuh, Zuhur, Asar, Maghrib and Isyak because Allah swt says so. No one can dispute that.

How on earth did Kit Siang or his blog administrator allow such comments to be posted?
I demand Kit Siang and KCB (if he dares come out in the open) to issue a formal apology to all Muslims not just in Malaysia but worldwide.

This is my message to all blog readers - please be tactful and considerate when posting comments.

Think with your heads, not with your knees!


I'm really angry with parents of SK Taman Melawati 2 pupils who took it among themselves to contact the New Straits Times, expressing their concern over the school's allegedly lackadaisical approach to contain the hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) of which 5 cases were reported but only two were confirmed (NST, pg. 22, 1 August 2008).

My daughter is also a Year One pupil at the school and I felt a knot in my stomach when I read the news report at first glance. But upon reading it carefully, I then realised that everything was under control and this was further confirmed when I personally called the school and also a friend at the Health Department.

This is exactly the problem with overzealous and whining parents which I can personally vouch are aplenty at the school. During the school's Parent Teacher Association (PIBG) Annual General Meeting earlier this year (if those parents even bothered to attend), the headmistress humbly requested that all parents communicate directly with the school's management if there were any issues, complaints or dissatisfaction regarding the wellbeing of their children. The last thing she wanted are gung-ho parents using the media to air their grouses because the media will not necessarily be able to solve the problem at hand (trust me, I was a journalist for almost a decade, so I know the deal).

I actually went to the school the same evening to fetch my daughter (whom normally takes a school van), just to have a first hand look at the situation. Majority of parents whom I spoke to said they were aware of the HFMD case (from NST) but not worried at all because if there was actually an outbreak, the school would have been closed already. In fact, several of the parents whom I met that evening were doctors and they said there was absolutely nothing to worry about. True to their words, the moment our children were released from school at 6.30 pm that evening, all I can see were hundreds of bubly and rosy cheeked 7 - 9 year olds running happily to their waiting mommys and daddys.

To the parents whom contacted the media over this issue, I hope you know the consequences of your selfish action. SK Taman Melawati 2 is the best primary school in the Gombak district and a lot of parents would do anything, including pull strings, to get their children enrolled there. I have high confidence and faith in the capabilities of the school's headmistress and teachers in taking care of our children. Don't put this school in the limelight for all the wrong reasons. After all, this is where our children get their education, unless you want to transfer them to another government school or better still, fork out a bomb to enroll them into a private school just 5 minutes away. Perhaps there they will communicate with you for even the most trivial matters such as the colour of socks your child should wear for the monhtly or quarterly school plays or concerts.

If not, let's all agree that for now, SK Taman Melawati 2 is a good deal, so count your blessings instead.


I find it amusing that all these while, we've been hearing that almost every key leader in Pakatan Rakyat (the opposition alliance comprising Parti Keadilan Rakyat, DAP and PAS) offering to vacate their Parliamentary seats for their de-facto leader, Datuk Seri Anwar "Al-Posterior" Ibrahim. At long last, it is his wife Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah who decided to resign as Permatang Pauh MP to make way for hubby dearest to contest in what must be "the mother of safest seats" for the former DPM.

What happened to the likes of Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, Menteri Besar of Selangor who said he'd willingly sacrifice his Bandar Tun Razak parliamentary seat for Anwar? Even Tian Chua who said he had no qualms to give his Batu seat or Azmin Ali who'd relinquish his Gombak seat, all for the love of Anwar?

Podah! Cakap aje berdegor-degor (Perak slang for not walking the talk). Last-last, bini jugak yang berkorban....


Over the weekend, Suria KLCC was jam-packed with people seeking "retail therapy" due to a double-whammy - the Isetan Megasale and the Pikom PC Fair.

Ini lah orang Malaysia - pantang dengar sale, semua rushing like mad. But then again, I was one of the guilty ones because I did bought a Casio G-Shock watch at Isetan, hehe. It was just too good to pass - 20% discount for Isetan card members. The watch which originally cost RM339 was reduced to RM271, thanks to the discount. I am big fan of Casio G-Shock watches - this is my third one. This is one thing which the Swiss can never match the Japanese - the latter makes high-quality watches at really, really affordable prices. Anyway, I do have a Tissot T-Touch timepiece which cost me more than RM2K - at least kena la ada jugak one Swiss timepiece in a lifetime, betul tak?

Back to the Isetan megasale and PC Fair - I have never seen so many people converge in one place - macam sardin, siap boleh berlaga buntut lagi. And yet people complain times are tough lah, fuel price is too much to bear lah, nak ubah lifestyle lah. Again, tak ada maknanya! When the government decided to raise the price of petrol from RM1.92 to RM2.70, majority of Malaysian cursed - hentam government and worse, even hentam PETRONAS yang tak ada kena-mengena pun sebenarnya. And I can bet, 90% of those who cursed the government when fuel prices went up are the same people who thronged KLCC for the Isetan sale and PC Fair. Eh, pelik kan? At first complaining because their budget is now tighter than a corsette, and here they are splurging like mad. I actually saw a guy emerging from the PC Fair (held at KL Convention Centre) with a trolley filled with printers, printer cartridges, a notebook computer and several other PC peripherals. Kiasu betul!

I actually sent my wife to KLCC on Saturday because she too wanted to buy some stuff at Isetan. I've already decided that I didn't want to accompany her because my eldest daughter was at school (replacement for upcoming Aidilfitri break) and my youngest daughter would surely throw a tantrum in a place filled with crazy shoppers. But what I thought would be a simple drop-off turned out to be a nightmare because it took me almost 30 minutes to enter KLCC via the KL-Ampang Elevated Highway entrance - the queue of automobiles was that long. Again, ada pun duit nak bayar duit minyak kereta kan?


I wish to register my disgust with the authorities who see fit to allow motorcycles on the KL-Ampang Elevated Highway. This 7-km expressway, which enables cars to zoom into KL from Ampang and Hulu Kelang in under 10 minutes, has now been invaded by motorcycles whom I must say, are behaving like apes because they have finally been allowed to taste the forbidden fruit.

The elevated highway was not designed for bikes. It has no provision for motorcycle lanes, and motorcyclists pose a danger to all motorists (paying users) as they zig zag, in and out of fast moving automobiles.

Prolintas (the PNB subsidiary which is the highway's operator and concession-holder) admitted that it was the authorities whom had allowed motorcycles to use the highway, in early July, although the signs at all entrances prohibit motorcycles!

Dah la tak kena bayar, mencilok bagai nak rak. Menyampah!

Ini mesti kerja Pak Lah jugak ni - sejak kena belasah teruk in the March 8 general election, bagi segala benda to various parties and quarters of the rakyat, sebab nak cuba puaskan hati semua orang, kan? Entah lah - tak kuasa nak fikir benda-benda macam ni....
Doesn't the Transport Ministry undertake any study before implementing such things?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Understanding Petronas

A lot of people do not understand the role and function of Petronas, which is essentially a company, a business entity, which operates on a commercial manner, to mainly generate income and value for its shareholder. In this case, PETRONAS' shareholder is the Government.

In 1974, when Petronas was set up, the Government gave Petronas RM10 million (peanuts, right?) as seed capital. From 1974 to 2007, PETRONAS made RM570 billion in accumulated profits, and returned to the Government a total of RM335.7 billion. That is about 65% of the profits. That means for every RM1 that Petronas makes, 65 sen goes back to the Government.

Last year, Petronas made a pre-tax profit of RM86.8 billion. The amount given back to the Government (in royalty, dividends, corporate income tax, petroleum products income tax and export duty) was RM52.3 billion. The rest of the profit was used to pay off minority interests and taxes in foreign countries (about RM7.8 billion - Petronas now operates in more than 30 countries), and the remaining RM26.7 billion was reinvested. The amount reinvested seems a lot, but the oil and gas industry is technology- and capital-intensive. Costs have gone up exponentially in the last couple of years. Previously, to drill a well, it cost about US$3 million; now it costs US$7 million. The use of rigs was US$200,000 a day a couple of years ago; now it costs US$600,000 a day.

A lot of people also do not realise that the amount returned by Petronas to the Government makes up 35% of the Government's total annual income, to be used by the Government for expenditures, development, operations, and yes, for the various subsidies. That means for every RM1 the Government makes, 35 sen is contributed by Petronas. So, instead of asking what happens to Petronas' money or profits, people should be questioning how the money paid by Petronas' to the Government is allocated.

A lot of people also ask, why Malaysia exports its crude oil. Shouldn't we just stop exporting and sell at cheaper prices to local refiners? If Malaysia is an oil exporting country, why can't we sell petrol or diesel at cheaper prices like other oil producing countries in the Middle East?

I guess I don't have to answer the first couple of questions. It's simple economics, and crude oil is a global commodity.

Why can't we sell petrol and diesel at lower prices like in the Middle East? Well, comparing Saudi Arabia and other big producers to Malaysia is like comparing kurma to durian, because tese Middle Eastern countries have much, much, much bigger oil and gas reserves.

Malaysia has only 5.4 billion barrels of oil reserves, and about 89 trillion cubic feet of gas. Compare that to Saudi Arabia's 260 billion barrels of oil and 240 trillion cubic feet of gas. Malaysia only produces 600,000 barrels per day of oil. Saudi Arabia produces 9 million barrels per day. At this rate, Saudi Arabia's crude oil sales revenue could amount to US$1.2 billion per day! At this rate, it can practically afford almost everything -- free education, healthcare, etc, and subsidies -- for its people.
But if we look at these countries closely, they have in the past few years started to come up with policies and strategies designed to prolong their reserves and diversify their income bases. In this sense, Malaysia (and Petronas) has had a good head start, as we have been doing this a long time.

Fuel prices in Malaysia is controlled by the Government based on a formula under the Automatic Pricing Mechanism introduced more than a couple of decades ago. It is under this mechanism that the complex calculation of prices is made, based on the actual cost of petrol or diesel, the operating costs, margin for dealers, margin for retail oil companies (including Petronas Dagangan Bhd) and the balancing number of duty or subsidy. No retail oil companies or dealers actually make money from the hike of the fuel prices. Oil companies pay for the products at market prices, but have to sell low, so the Government reimburses the difference -- thus subsidy.

Subsidy as a concept is OK as long as it benefits the really deserving segment of the population. But there has to be a limit to how much and how long the Government should bear and sustain subsidy. An environment where prices are kept artificially low indefinitely will not do anyone any good. That's why countries like Indonesia are more pro-active in removing subsidies. Even Vietnam (which is a socialist country, by the way) is selling fuel at market prices.

I feel I also need to say something on the allegation that Petronas is not transparent in terms of its accounts, business transactions etc.

Petronas is first and foremost a company, operating under the rules and regulations of the authorities including the Registrar of Companies, and the Securities Commission and Bursa Malaysia for its listed four subsidiaries (Petronas Dagangan Bhd, Petronas Gas Bhd, MISC Bhd and KLCC Property Holdings Bhd.

Petronas the holding company produces annual reports which are made to whomever wants them, and are distributed to many parties and places; including to the library at the Parliament House for perusal and reading pleasure of all Yang Berhormat MPs (if they care to read). Petronas also makes the annual report available on its website, for those who bother to look. The accounts are duly audited.

The website also contains a lot of useful information, if people really care to find out. Although Petronas is not listed on Bursa Malaysia, for all intents and purposes, it could be considered a listed entity as its bonds and financial papers are traded overseas. This requires scrutiny from investors, and from rating agencies such as Standard & Poor and Moody's.

There are also calls by the Malaysian public especially through blogs, alternative news portal, Facebook, Friendster, MySpace, Multiply and various social interface networks on the internet to boycott Petronas. Well, the last time I checked, this is still a democratic country, where people are free to spend their money wherever they like.

For those who like to see more of the money that they spend go back to the local economy and benefiting their fellow Malaysians, perhaps they should consider sticking to local products or companies.

For those who like to see that the money they spend go back to foreign shareholders of the foreign companies overseas, they should continue buying foreign products.

I'm sorry if this is rather long, but I just have to convey it. I hope this would help some of you out there understand something. The oil and gas industry, apart from being very capital intensive, is also very complex and volatile.

Don't simply attack Petronas. Check your facts first.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dr. Faiz Khaled - Don't Push Your Luck!

Tak Ada Maknanya!!

The more I read about our now uncertain astronaut programme, the more I'm convinced that our second astronaut candidate, Major Dr. Faiz Khaled is getting more and more desperate to get his ass to outer space.

I can understand the army dentist's predicament. His colleague - Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor is already on cloud nine with all the glamour and glory after being the first Malaysian to go to space and spend a few days at the International Space Station, hence earning the UKM physician cum model the undisputable title of "Angkasawan Pertama Negara" or something like that.

But the thing is my dear Dr. Faiz Khaled, more and more Malaysians are now convinced that it is a total waste of money to send you for another excursion to space. Money that we don't have. Faham tak?

Please don't patronise us with your now so boring standard quotes like "the aerospace industry is an investment by Malaysia in education, science and technology" or "the angkasawan programme would inspire more young Malaysians to excel in science and technology" and a million other gobbledygook. Tolonglah!

Newly appointed Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili already said that the ministry, which is in charge of the Malaysian space programme, does not have sufficient funds in its coffers to finance Dr Faiz's taxi ride to space because this time around, the government would have to foot the bill in full, about RM100 million or perhaps even more, compared to Dr. Sheikh's taxi ride which was under a contra-deal made with the Russians when we bought the Sukhoi MKM-30 air superiority fighter jets for the RMAF. Itupun the Malaysian government still had to fork out quite a sum to finance both Dr Sheikh's and Dr. Faiz's zig zagging between Malaysia and Russia for training and all. So there you have it - kita dah memang tak ada duit nak hantar awak pergi angkasa lepas, reti?

This is exactly the problem with Dr Faiz Khaled and even Dr Sheikh for that matter. Dua-dua perasan bagus. They think they are so cool already just because they are the country's astronauts (well, almost for Dr Faiz). They should be ashamed if they compared themselves with the US astronauts, Russians cosmonauts and Chinese taikonauts. You know why? I'll tell you why. Let's take US astronauts for example. Most of them are either US Air Force, US Army, US Navy or US Marine Corp pilots who have logged more than 6,000 flying hours (both combat and peace time) which is one of the pre-requisites to even be considered for entry into the coveted US Astronaut Corp under NASA. And that's not all. Being merely military pilots does not qualify them automatically. They must also possess degrees or double degrees in core science disciplines related to aerospace or space science such as nano-physics, nuclear-physics, astro-physics, advanced biology, advanced chemistry etc. etc. etc. This would enable them to either become mission commanders (meaning flying the space shuttle using their military aviation background) or mission specialists (meaning they can conduct high tech and meaningful science & technology experiments in space using their academic background). In short, US astronauts are required to be all rounders.

That's just the paper qualifications. And then comes the training. US astronauts train for a minimum of 7 to 8 years prior to lift off to space. Itu pun belum tentu dapat pergi, tau tak? There is no guarantee by NASA that you will get a seat in the space shuttle even if you have trained for that many years. Because it's so competitive and standards are very, very high. You'd be lucky if you are in the first back-up team or second back-up team.

Having said all that, it is also the same for the Russian cosmonauts and Chinese taikonauts. Most of them are military aviators with superior academic background. Bukannya macam our angkasawan yang undergo abridged training for 18 months. Dr Sheikh and Dr Faiz attended "short-cut" training because the cash-strapped Russians already promised the Malaysian government that by hook or by crook, one of the boys would be in space within the agreed timeframe.

And when Dr Sheikh returned to earth and back to Malaysia, what did we get?? Did we benefit at all? Well, perhaps school kids are inspired and excited to see the angkasawan when he conducts motivational talks at their school but that's as good as it gets. Where on earth are all the end results of the experiments he conducted for the good of mankind? Are we ever going to be at least informed of the end results no matter how long it takes? Hmm, memang tak ada le tu rasanya. As usual, Malaysia end up with dirt again, being suckered big time by Russia.

So, here's an advice to Dr. Faiz - stop whining and if you don't get to go, deal with it. No need to justify with all sorts of comments in the media. Kalau dapat pergi, bagus, Alhamdulillah. Kalau tak dapat, duduk aje diam-diam.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

We Cannot Simply Compare Based On Forex

Malaysia's ERL - better than London's Heathrow Express?? Wow!

I'm so sick and tired of both the government and private sector who has the tendency to compare loosely based on foreign exchange when justifying their claims that prices in Malaysia (for whatever products or services) are cheaper than other countries.

The latest was Dr. Aminuddin Adnan, CEO of Express Rail Link (ERL) Sdn Bhd who said that the ERL (Malaysia's high speed train from Kuala Lumpur to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport) is better than the ones in Europe, particularly the Heathrow Express. The story was published in the New Straits Times yesterday. The statement was made by the CEO to refute claims by Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad Workers Union president Abdul Razak Md Hassan that the service was not practical and cost-effective in a report in Mingguan Malaysia on Sunday when rejecting a proposal by YTL Corporation (ERL's parent company) to start a bullet train service from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.

Come on, ERL better than Heathrow Express? Oh please. I've been on the latter during my visits to London - you cannot compare with ERL. Period.

Anyway, what Dr Aminuddin meant by saying ERL is better than the ones in Europe was in terms of cost and also ticket price. The CEO claims that overall expenditure on the project was RM2 billion, which remained the lowest cost per kilometre, or RM35 million, (20 per cent of the cost of Heathrow Express in London).

Aminuddin added that the ERL service was 99.7 per cent reliable, which was much better than similar services in Europe or local train services. He also said the RM35 fee per trip was significantly cheaper than in London which charged STG17 (RM107) for half the distance.

Now, this is what I want to refute - it costs RM107 for a ride on the Heathrow Express from Heathrow International Airport to London's Paddington Station. Of course it would cost that much for a Malaysian but for a British, it is a straight forward 17 bloody pounds! And to the Brits, 17 bloody pounds is the same as RM17, get it?! If Dr Aminuddin really wants to claim that ERL is cheap, why not reduce the price from RM35 to say RM20? I'd say that's a fair price, don't you think?

This is exactly our problem. We like to compare loosely based on foreign exchange. I'll give you a simple example. Say you travel to London for a vacation and you walk into a McDonald's for your favourite Double Cheeseburger. Here in Malaysia, the burger would cost about RM4.75 or let's just round it up to RM5. In London, the same burger would cost about STG3.50 or let's just round it up to STG4. Okay, and now comes the foreign exchange calculation - STG4 x 7.5 = RM30. Would you say that the Double Cheeseburger in London is bloody expensive because its RM30?? Or would you just take it at face value, and pay the bloody STG4 like any other Brit for the burger? If we are so obsessed with calculating forex, don't even bother to holiday in Europe, US, Australia or any country of which the forex is to our disadvantage. Because the fact is, our Ringgit is what it is at the moment, not as strong as the USD, STG, Euro or the AUD.

And I won't even bother to discuss about our government's tendency to compare, again loosely on forex, when claiming that our fuel prices are the cheapest in South East Asia (except for Brunei). Meaning Brunei is still the cheapest, right? And what about fuel prices in the United States? Over there in the great land of Uncle Sam, they charge fuel by the gallons. Miles per gallon. That's why Americans can afford to drive fuel guzzlers with mammoth engine capacity - V8s, V10s, V12s. We're talking 5.0 or 6.0 litres family sedans and SUVs here.
Stop this nonsense comparison please!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Goodbye EPL Title, Try Again Next Season Gunners

It's all cast in stone now. Arsenal will not lift the EPL title this season after losing 1-2 to MU at Old Trafford early this morning (Malaysian time).

This also means no silverware at all for the Gunners this season after failing to advance to the semis of the Champions League (no thanks to Liverfool) and also the FA Cup (again, no thanks to MU). It's a pity really because Arsenal performed exceptionally well at the start of the season on to mid-season but unfortunately, kind of lost its magic towards the end.

Arsenal has two options now. Either win all remaining four games and hope MU loses at least three (yeah, right!) or just take it easy and really focus for next season. I'd say go for option one - win all four games and at least end the season with some dignity. Who knows, Gunners can even secure second spot and knock Chelsea down to third.
Whatever it is, Arsenal played a splendid game against MU yesterday. They fought till the end. Lady luck just weren't on their side. They deserved to win. I hate MU. Period.

Oh, here's a message to Owen Hargreaves who scored MU's winning goal - you're only great in England, you won't even be playing in Euro 2008 because England won't be there. Sucker!

Anyway, to Arsenal, I will always love you guys and support you forever. I've been supporting you guys since I was 8 years old.

Go Gunners!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Keputusan PRU 12 : Melayu Mesti Sedar Bahaya Yang Dihadapi

Keputusan Pilihanraya Umum Ke-12 (PRU 12) telahpun diketahui dan rakyat Malaysia telahpun membuat pilihan.

Saya hanya mampu menggelengkan kepala apabila keputusan diumumkan di kaca televisyen pada malam 8 Mac dan juga awal pagi 9 Mac. Saya bersengkang mata hingga ke subuh untuk mendapat kepastian dan merasa begitu terkilan apabila mengetahui rakyat Malaysia memilih untuk menumbangkan kerajaan Barisan Nasional (BN) di empat negeri pantai barat iaitu Kedah, Pulau Pinang, Perak dan Selangor. Malah, BN telah dinafikan majoriti dua pertiga di Parlimen. Syukur Alhamdulillah kerana BN masih mampu menubuhkan Kerajaan Persekutuan dengan majoriti mudah.

Berdasarkan keputusan PRU 12 tersebut, saya berharap rakyat Malaysia, khususnya orang-orang Melayu yang ”anti-establishment” telah berpuas hati dengan apa yang mereka lakukan. Atas alasan undi protes dan juga emosi jangka pendek, mereka sanggup menggadaikan masa hadapan kaum mereka sendiri hingga menyebabkan Pulau Pinang kini diterajui oleh seorang Ketua Menteri dari parti DAP yang jelas lebih mengutamakan satu kaum sahaja walaupun mendakwa mereka parti pelbagai kaum. Perak juga diambang pemerintahan seorang Menteri Besar dari parti yang sama. Selangor pula mendapat Menteri Besar dari Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) yang bertanggungjawab melumpuhkan kewangan sebuah syarikat besar negara ketika beliau menerajui syarikat tersebut sehingga memaksa ”mega merger” untuk menyelamatkan ia daripada melingkup. Kedah pula bakal mengalami keadaan caca marba seperti Terengganu pada tahun 1999 di bawah kepimpinan PAS. Silap haribulan, destinasi pelancongan tersohor negara iaitu Langkawi bakal menjadi ”sleepy hollow” akibat dasar-dasar PAS yang sudah hampir pasti akan dilaksanakan di Negeri Jelapang Padi itu.

Bagus dan tahniah kepada orang-orang Melayu yang ”anti-establishment” yang memainkan peranan besar menumbangkan BN di negeri-negeri tersebut. Teruskan perbuatan anda di PRU 13 lima tahun dari sekarang. Sudah alang-alang, tumbangkan terus BN di peringkat persekutuan. Ketika itu nanti, barulah tahu langit itu tinggi atau rendah. Lihatlah sahaja Pulau Pinang, baru sehari dua memerintah, DAP sudah tunjuk belang. Tidak perlu saya cerita lebih panjang kerana bimbang akan mewujudkan elemen berbau perkauman.

Kalau orang Melayu tidak sedar lagi bahaya yang sedang dihadapi, bermakna masa hadapan anak cucu kita sudahpun di pahat secara kekal di tembok perjalanan politik, sosial dan ekonomi negara yang amat saya sayangi dan cintai ini.

Pengundi-pengundi kaum bukan Melayu telahpun menunjukkan belang mereka ketika PRU 12 yang baru berlangsung dengan memilih parti yang boleh memastikan kepentingan mereka terus dipelihara malah mungkin juga ditingkatkan ke tahap yang mampu menghakis atau melenyapkan terus ketuanan Melayu di negara ini. Pulau Pinang, Perak dan kerusi-kerusi Parlimen di Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur adalah bukti nyata akan langkah nekad kaum bukan Melayu untuk menjadi komponen rakyat yang lebih agresif, yang mampu menepis dan menangkis pengaruh UMNO sebagai parti politik utama yang mewakili kepentingan orang Melayu.

Namun, pengundi-pengundi Melayu sendiri yang telah mencabul penat lelah perjuangan UMNO untuk mereka dengan memilih pembangkang di PRU 12. Merekalah pengkhianat bangsa yang tidak pernah tahu bersyukur atas segala kenikmatan, keistimewaan dan kesejahteraan hidup yang diperolehi dari saat mereka lahir hinggalah sekarang yang semuanya kerana dasar-dasar dan sistem yang dicetuskan oleh kepimpinan negara sejak sekian lama iaitu BN yang diterajui UMNO.

Inilah masalahnya kalau sudah terlebih pandai atau lebih tepat lagi, pandai tidak bertempat. Untuk rekod, saya seorang profesional Melayu dan saya berterima kasih kepada BN dan UMNO kerana mewujudkan sistem yang membolehkan saya berada di kedudukan saya sekarang.

Tiada faedahnya menjadi ”anti-establishment” hanya semata-mata kerana ingin dilihat sebagai golongan yang celik dan cerdik dari segi kesedaran hak untuk memilih pemerintah negara. Macamlah negara kita ini terlalu teruk keadaannya seperti beberapa negara di Afrika, Asia Selatan malah sebuah negara jiran di Asia Tenggara yang mana rakyat memberontak kerana keadaan hidup yang sudah terlalu mendesak dan serba kekurangan. Yang lebih lucu, kebanyakkan orang-orang Melayu yang ”anti-establishment” ini adalah golongan yang berada sebenarnya. Di kawasan DUN Hulu Kelang dan DUN Bukit Antarabangsa di mana saya tinggal contohnya, kebanyakkan penyokong-penyokong PKR malah PAS memandu kenderaan pacuan empat roda mewah dan juga kenderaan mewah Eropah yang kita semua sedia maklum. Itulah ”anti-establisment” mengada-ngada namanya.

Mengada-ngada sehingga menyebabkan ketuanan Melayu kini ibarat telur di hujung tanduk. Fikirkanlah.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

2008 - A New Hope

My valued readers,
Happy New Year 2008! I know it's a little bit too late to wish that but what the heck, it's the last day of January, which technically still qualifies my new year wish being uttered in the first month of the year. Whatever.

I know I haven't blogged for a zillion years, well close to 6 months I think, but it was all for a good reason. I was buried with work (the oldest excuse in the world) and more important, I needed to take a back seat in the bloggers' bus to find new inspiration. I guess it finally came today and it felt wonderful. As usual, someone triggered my comeback into the world of blogging. A friend actually. I just got into an argument with her and of course, I ended up on the losing end because she's the type who always have the win the verbal battle.

So, I guess my first entry of 2008 is more to blow off steam rather than to write something more meaningful to kick off the new year (which has 11 more remaining months).

Oh, I also found a new fun thing to do on the internet - Facebook. I love it! Have to admit, I've been more occupied with that rather than updating this blog. You see, FB is fun because it's not really a blog but a visual / pictorial interface where you can just upload your photos for your friends to see. It's more like an online individual directory. Definitely better than Friendster (that's for teens and small kids) and more versatile than MySpace. I found a lot of old friends through FB.

Anyway, watch this space and you won't be dissapointed. That much I can promise you....