Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Daim - environment now not good for FDI

A FEW months before the March 8 general election, former Finance Minister and Umno Treasurer Tun Daim Zainudiin warned the Barisan Nasional to watch out for the political restlessness in Kedah, Penang, Perak and Selangor.

As it turned out, the four states in the peninsular's west coast fell to the Pakatan Rakyat in an unprecedented show of the people's displeasure against the national coalition spearheaded by Umno.

Daim's warning then met with disbelief in some quarters. Today, Daim spoke again but this time on the national economy. "The Government must come out with various innovations to win public confidence. Malaysia also needs political stability. Without political stability, there is uncertainty and many fear there will be chaos."

Daim made these remarks in an interview with the Malaysian Business in its July 16 issue. Busy as ever in his international banking businesses, Daim answered questions ranging from the ringgit, the stock market, non-performing loans of banks, inflation and fuel prices.

One has to read the full interview to get the complete perspective of what Daim has to say. He was also asked to compare the financial crisis of the 1997/98 years with that of today, particularly in the manner in which it was handled then and today.

Some quotes from the interview: "People want to know whether the Government has options. They want to know if the Government is on top of these problems. If they know, then they will have faith in the Government and continue to support it....

"I think the Government should tell people the facts. Share with them the figures you have. Prepare for the worst. They will support the Government if they are told the truth. But the Government must have a plan on how to handle this tough problem.

"Once the Government has got the Action Plan, implement it and stick to it. No flip-flops." I think Daim's words should be heeded this time, considering his warning earlier this year on the political developments in the four states.

Mind you, he was asked to take the country out of the financial crisis in 97/98, which he did successfully, and was later drafted into the Cabinet for the second time in 1999. He left two years later and is happy tending to his crop of banks all over the globe.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Merc vs PerdanaV6 - 0 to 100 shootout!

LEST we forget, it's not the Proton Perdana Executive V6 or the Mercedez Benz E200 Kompressor that's the issue here. I believe both cars have dependable qualities in their own way, and depending on who's buying, should be a good buy at any point in time.

I believe that we have somehow lost the plot. Terengganu MB Datuk Ahmad Said had told the media that the issue of the State Government buying the Merc is all settled after he had a meeting with his boss, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Abdullah, when stating his stand, said the State Government, having already bought the cars to replace the Perdana Executive V6, should be used by dignitaries visiting Trengganu. This makes Terengganu as perhaps the only state having 14 brand new Merc on standby for use by visiting dignitaries.

Last Friday and Saturday, however, two of the Mercs were in Putrajaya and Johor Baru for separate engagements. While this was going on, a debate rages on the maintenance cost of the Perdana V6 compared to that of a Merc.

Ahmad Said says one thing, Abdullah says another. Between these two leaders, the Malaysian motoring public is being brought to speed on the merits and demerits of the technical aspects of both cars. I wait anxiously when the motoring media would make a bumper to bumper comparison of these two models.

It does look like the Terengganu MB has defied the PM, having allowed his Exco members to take the car for a spin, to Putrajaya and JB no less. All eyes are now on the PM - what's the next move? Will we see another face off between the Federal and the State Governments?

I also hear voices commending the MB for his statement that he's not a 'hypocrite' when buying the Merc to replace the Perdana V6. Elaborating, he said many of his political colleagues have several cars in their private garage, and the list doesn't just stop at Merc and BMWs!

Heck! I've seen a Federal Minister driving in a Range Rover Sports (which costs more than RM1 million). The Porche Cayenne? Plenty around too...same as the BMW M5 specs, which is very powerful that it requires the driver to undergo full training routines before driving away with his purchase.

By making that statement, Ahmad Said didn't endear himself to his colleagues, especially those in Umno. By layman's reckoning, Ahmad Said not only defied his boss, he also challenged Pak lah's authority by letting at least two EXCO members to use the cars meant for state dignitaries.

Perhaps for Ahmad Said, the purchase was already a fait accompli. What's there to talk and argue anymore - that's his stand. The rakyat aren't the only ones waiting to see the outcome of this duel. Ahmad Said's colleagues too would want to see who or what will prevail in this encounter - the brand new Merc or the Perdana V6.

I guess this is it! Not only have we lost the plot, we have also demonstrated our penchant and skill for shooting ourselves in the leg. It doesn't require much hard work, but we certainly have more than adequate training in recent times.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Radioman Engku Emran is a blogger!

SURIA FM CEO Engku Emran has joined us in blogosphere! The radio man launched his blog - Between my Legs - today! He gave us his first posting ysterday (July 23). I wish Emran all the best in his new (ad)venture! Way to go Bro!

I came to know (and like) Emran in 2006 when I organised the Second Merdeka Rally for Humanity. Emran led his band of bikers and joined 100 cars and 4x4s from the federal capital to Kuantan via the Kg Orang Asli settlement in Gombak and Pekan where we shared tea with orphans from the Rumah Kebajikan Toh Puan Rahah.

What a sight eh Emran! Let's do it again ASAP!

You can take a peek into Emran's blog via eeblog08.blogspot.com. Enjoy!

PS - In case you don't already know, Emran is also chairman of the Erra Fazira Fan Club!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I will kill you for nothing - grafitti of life

NEWS that Radovan Karadzic was arrested would not bring enough cheer to the Bosnian Muslims who had suffered the atrocities during the Bosnian Serbs 'ethnic cleansing' of the mid-90s. It will be months, maybe even years, before Karadzic can be sentenced for the genocide he had sponsored.

Reports that Bosnian Muslims were in jubilation in the street of Sarajevo would not wash away the pain, agony and trauma that they had suffered when Karadzic's forces were killing away mercilessly in many parts of the country.

Memories of the massacres in Srebrenica, Gorazde, Tuzla and Mostar are still clear and fresh in the minds of the families and friends of the victims. They wouldn't believe that justice is served until Karadzic is removed from the face of the earth.

I was in Sarajevo last year, attending a seminar on how best to help rebuild Bosnia-Herzegovina, a country rich in history with plenty of beautiful tourist sites. I took a ride to Mostar and saw buildings pockmarked with bullets and gaping holes left by cannons and heavy artillery fire.

Way back in the 90s, I was with an NGO called Barisan Bertindak Bosnia (BBB) which took on months of public campaign to create awareness of the plight of the Bosnians and the humanitarian struggle faced by the peoples of what was once a country called Yugoslavia.

We initiated a campaign called the Save Bosnia Campaign and urged everyone to donate RM1 each to a fund meant to ease the sufferings of the people there. In the end, Malaysians donated more than RM5 million which were handed to the Bosnian leaders at the United Nations.

We held rallies at the Merdeka Stadium; held a karyawan concert at the Shah Alam Stadium; undertook roadshows throughout the country; hyped the ethnic cleansing in the newspapers; and made everyone realised how fortunate we were living in a plural society. In fact, the rallies were for the Bosnians as much as for us Malaysians.

The hunt continues for Ratko Mladic, another military chief who has been indicted for war crimes. Mladic has been at large and attempts are still being made to track him down. He must be made to pay for his sins.

I'm reminded of two grafitti on the walls of a factory in Srebrenica. They are:

'i'm your best friend
i will kill you for nothing...'

Bosnie '94

'killing is my business
and business in good...'

the frogman

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tok Sidang Baru lwn Tok Sidang Lama

SAYA melawat dua kampong berasingan hujung minggu lalu. Kedua-duanya di Perak, salah sebuah negeri yang dibawah pentadbiran Kerajaan Pakatan Rakyat. Setiap kampong ini mempunyai dua Tok Sidang, atau ketua kampong. Satu Tok Sidang negeri dan satu lagi Tok Sidang persekutuan.

Tok Sidang negeri dilantik oleh Kerajaan Negeri dan Tok Sidang Persekutuan dilantik kerajaan persekutuan. Dan di sinilah bermulanya masalah orang kampong. Kebanyakan Tok Sidang persekutuan ialah mereka yang memegang jawatan berkenaan sebelum pilihanraya 8 Mac.

Selepas PKR menakluki Perak, Tok Sidang baru pula dilantik. Ada yang dari parti komponen PKR dan ada juga yang tidak menganggotai mana-mana parti politik. Untuk mempastikan orang kampong boleh terus mengadu hal dengan kerajaan BN, Tok Sidang lama dilantik menjadi Tok Sidang persekutuan.

Jika mengikut logik, penduduk-penduduk kampong berkenaan wajib mendapat layanan baik dan memuaskan dari kedua-dua Tok Sidang. Best of both worlds, bak kata pepatah Inggeris. Jika tidak mendapat layanan dari Tok Sidang negeri, mereka boleh mengadu kepada Tok Sidang persekutuan!

Tetapi realitinya bagai pepatah jauh panggang dari api. Di sebuah kampong, Tok Sidang baru terkial-kial mencari saluran untuk bertemu dengan orang kampong. Senerai nama-nama penduduk ada di tangan Tok Sidang lama, dan beliau mendiamkan diri dan tidak memberi sebarang kerjasama kepada Tok Sidang baru.

Apa juga usaha yang hendak dibuat oleh Tok Sidang baru tidak kesampaian. Tok Sidang baru juga tidak mempunyai apa-apa pengalaman mentadbir, dan tidak juga diberi sebarang latihan untuk melaksanakan tugasnya dengan berkesan. Kini, dia mula menampakkan ketidakupayaannya untuk mentadbir kampong.

Tok Sidang lama pula sudah merajuk dan malu apabila ADUN BN kalah di PRU12. Dia menyepikan diri. Malah, penduduk kampong sudahpun mempersoalkan pendiriannya sebagai Tok Sidang.

Di sebuah kampong lain, Tok Sidang baru (yang namanya sudah diumum tetapi surat perlantikan belum dikeluarkan) juga menunjukkan sifat ketidakupayaan menyesuaikan diri dengan kedudukan barunya.

Sabtu lepas, di satu majlis projek sosial yang dirasmikan oleh MP dan Ahli Jemaah Menteri Persekutuan, Tok Sidang baru telah hadir dan duduk bersama-sama para jemputan khas. Saya lihat ini adalah satu petanda baik bagi orang kampong.

Secara tiba-tiba, Tok Sidang berkenaan bangun dan menjawab talipon bimbitnya. Semua yang hadir melihat gelagatnya sambil setengah perhatian ditumpu ke pentas dimana Pak menteri sedang berucap. Tok Sidang baru terus berbual dengan suara yang 'bersaing' dengan suara Pak Menteri.

Tok Sidang baru menghampiri pentas, menyapa Pak Menteri dan meminta diri untuk beredar dari majlis berkenaan. "Maaf Datuk Seri, saya dipanggil Menteri Besar untuk satu mensyuarat sekarang. Saya terpaksa meninggalkan majlis."

Pak Menteri menjawab dengan tenang: :"Baiklah. Kirim salam saya pada Datuk MB."

Saya terpinga-pinga melihat gelagat itu. Banyak soalan bermain di kepala. Apakah betul bahawa Tok Sidang dipanggil mesyuarat oleh MB? Atau dia merasa tidak selesa di majlis berkenaan dan mencari helah untuk beredar? Atau kehadiran Tok Sidang lama menyebabkan Tok Sidang baru merasa geram dan tidak diumpamakan?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Shed a tear, and offer a doa, for Rayyan

SLIGHTLY more than a month ago, I received an SMS just after Suboh prayers that jolted me wide awake. Nik Aiza, a former colleague at Maxis, text me saying that her infant son had passed away, having succumbed to leukemia.

Yesterday, she sent me an e mail, which I'm sharing with everyone. The following is what Aiza wrote:

"Dear friends & colleagues,

My beloved son, Rayyan Hakimi passed away on 12th June 2008 at 4.45am after battling leukemia since March last year. He was 2 years, 8 months old. He passed away peacefully after enduring the pain of chemo for more than a year.

"His cancer cells were too strong and resistant to every chemo protocol given to him. In the end, doctors advised us to stop the chemo and to let him go peacefully without torturing him with anymore toxic chemo.

"Based on his blood count, the doctor predicted weeks to go & that we utilize that time to let him be free & enjoy everything possible - no more rules.

"We had planned so many exciting things for him and looked foward to enjoy each of them as we knew time was against us. Unfortunately, his condition started to deteriorate further as the days passed by and despite all the freedom, he could barely run..walk..stand...sit.. every move was too painful for him.

"We didn’t give up hope and went for several alternative treatment…but he was getting weaker & hardly ate.

"We had tried everything that we could possibly do and if there was going to be no miracle cure, then we prayed for Allah to take him to a better place. He will be dearly missed by our family and friends, even doctors and nurses.

"All the joy, smile and happiness that he brought to us (even temporarily) will be remembered forever. May he rest peacefully & bask in the joys of heaven.

"I suppose we can find comfort in the fact that despite the chemo & other treatments for more than a year, he had quality of life - not bedridden, still full of energy and yes, lots of character.

"He was growing up fairly like a normal child eventhough his blood results were never great. We had a heads-up when the doctors finally gave up & said that he had about a month to go & he only fell into a coma for 2 days & went in his sleep while my husband & I held his hands.

"My heartfelt thanks to all of you for all the well wishes, prayers, support, kind thoughts, contribution and condolences throughout Rayyan's illness until now. There is a saying that goes "When you need strength, it will come."

"And during this unimaginable difficult period, all of you have helped give us that strength in one way or another. Thanks to those who came over to the hospital, our home and the countless SMSs which I didn’t manage to reply. I also apologize for anyone that I may have missed out from this email.

"I am eternally grateful to all of you & there's no way for me to repay you but to wish that all the blessings be returned to you & your families.

"Salam & best regards."

I wish Aiza and family strength and fortitude in this trying time. No amount of words can comfort you. But you know that you and your family had given Rayyan all the love and care he could possibly have, and more. Cherish the memories and moments of tenderness you shared together.

God Almighty, in all His wisdom, had put you and family to a test that far exceeded the ones you had ever encountered before. I'm sure you and family will emerge stronger and with more compassion in the coming years. My doa for all of you.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Anwar's (ski masks) roadside arrest


Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was released this mornng just before 10am on police bail. Radio 24 announced this around 10am. He is scheduled to have a Press Conference at his Segambut home after lunch.

But road bloks placed along many roads leading to the city caused massive traffic jams, causing office workers arriving late at their work places. It's in times like this that we need Rdio 24 giving us regular updates as it's doing now.


DATUK Seri Anwar Ibrahim appeared twice on prime time national television in the last 24 hours. First, the de facto leader of Pakatan Rakyat appeared live when debating with Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek on Tuesday night at Dewan Bahasa Pustaka.

Second, when he was arrested on Wednesday afternoon just about 50 metres from his home in Segambut. He was said to be on his way to Police HQ in Kuala Lumpur to make a statement in relation to the allegation that he had sodomised one of his assistants.

I had missed much of the hoo-haa but TV3 midnight news showed pictures from a Chinese newspaper of the arrest. The sight of policemen wearing ski masks (and possibly armed) when making the arrest gave a somewhat grim picture of the incident.

Anwar was said to be making his way to the Police HQ when police cars intercepted his vehicle. Anwar was told to step out of the car he was in, and ushered into one of the police heavily-tinted 4x4s and driven away.

Anwar was told to present himself to the Police HQ before 2pm, or face possible arrest. The roadside drama took place at about 12.30pm. One must assume that Anwar stood a better chance of making the 2pm deadline if he had police escorts, much like the days when he was deputy prime minister.

The scene was less dramatic than in 1978 when ski-masks policemen stormed his house in Damansara to whisk him away. To too many people, this was deja vu...

But the times, they are different. I shan't hazard a guess as to how different the reaction will be this time. The arrest will spark fresh debates in and outside the TV studios, that much I'm certain.

CNN, CNBC, BBC and Aljazeera may send additional crew members to KL to bring the drama to the world's living rooms. Watch out for repeat footages and special reports in the next few days in the world media. A page one story is not impossible.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Anwar-Shabery Cheek set new benchmark

I BELIEVE the live debate on television awhile ago has set a new benchmark in the articulation of public issues. Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the de facto leader of Pakatan Rakyat, and Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek, the Information Minister, did very well to put their arguments across before a live audience and shown across the nation.

As information minister, Ahmad Shabery broke new grounds with the debate, an idea mooted by news portal Agenda Daily. We must take off our hats to all those involved in staging what I believe to be the start of a new format in discussing public issues.

It's early days, but the signs are very encouraging. The topic was "tubuh kerajaan hari ini, besok harga minyak turun." Translated, it means "form the government today, and tomorrow petrol price will go down." This has been the PKR's slogan after the Government raised petrol prices recently.

Anwar was being himself, enjoying every bit of public attention. He started slow, almost cautiously, but gained momentum as the debate progressed. He projected himself as someone who's "been there, seen that, done that." The topic was more political than economic, and, to me, it was an exercise of one-upmanship more than anything else.

Ahmad Shabery, knowing that he had taken the "fight" to Anwar's court, was more careful. He had obviously done some homework, and some of the points he used were consistent with the explanation he had given in his meet-the-people sessions, including Umno grassroot leaders.

The debate was lively, and I believe the supporters of each speaker came away feeling that their man had done well and scored points with viewers and the ordinary folks. From one perspective, Anwar was happy that his rare public appearance on television had given him an opportunity to showcase his skill and enable voters to judge him accordingly.

Ahmad Shabery scored highly with viewers with his willingness to engage the one-time deputy prime minister in an open debate. Not many would cherish the idea of trading verbal punches with Anwar, who, Ahmad Shabery said, is known for his street demonstrations going back to the Baling protests of 1974.

Anwar, though declaring that he wouldn't want to be drawn into a political fist fight with his stage opponent, did fire a salvo at Ahmad Shabery, saying that the Kemaman MP, having been a Semangat 46 leader some time ago, should have paid more attention to details when highlighting the country's oil reserves.

Anwar was offensive from the start, saying that he would have preferred to have Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on stage rather than Ahmad Shabery. In the final analysis, the public did get a fair glimpse of two political opponents speaking their minds on an issue that has affected every single one of us.

Next, will we get to see Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu and someone from Hindraf on the same stage? Or Penang CM Lim Guan Eng and Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin? Let's wait.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Eyes on Pak Lah, Najib, Ku Li, Muhyiddin

IT WAS UMNO Johor which first mooted the idea that Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi pass the baton to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to pave the way for a smooth transition of power under what is referred to as the Umno 'pelan peralihan.'

And if I recall correctly, it was Umno vice president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who came up with the idea at an Umno Johor Liaison Committee meeting a couple of months ago. This was duly accepted by the state committee, which then was conveyed to the party president at a special meeting held in Johor Baru about a week later.

Seen from that perspective, and following Pak Lah's announcement a few days ago, the 'pelan peralihan' is set to take place in June 2010. Which, also seen from that perspective, should calm the party and make everyone get down to serious business.

The reaction to the announcement has not been a unanimous agreement though. This is understandable, because this is an election year and both the number one and two must first of all clear the hurdle of retaining their posts.

Despite the announcement and the reported show of support from various quarters in and outside Umno, the spotlight would still be on Pak Lah and Najib. And in the context of the December party poll, the spotlight also falls on Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Muhyiddin.

The Kelantan prince has been criss-crossing the country to whip up support after declaring that he intends to challenge Pak Lah for the top post. He has been having meetings to try and get at least 58 nominations to qualify to contest.

After the announcement, there is still much whispers on the speculated and unconfirmed pact between Najib and Muhyiddin. The two was said to team up as they try to wrest the leadership from Pak Lah, whom many had called to step down after the Barisan Nasional's below-par showing at the March 8 general election.

Some political observers said Pak Lah has 'checkmated' the move, forcing Najib (if indeed he had a pact with Muhyiddin) to ditch Muhyiddin, who was on official duties in Japan when the Supreme Council met and endorsed the 'pelan peralihan.' Bear in mind, it was Muhyiddin, and Umno Johor, that first came up with the 'pelan peralihan.'

Muhyiddin has not made a full statement of what his plans will be, except to say that the two-year wait is too long. He fears that Najib may not have sufficient time to consolidate his position and the party after taking over and to face the 13th general election. Muhyiddin is not alone with this view.

Muhyiddin will have to tread carefully, especially after giving the impression that he was seeking a higher position than that of a vice president. From the party's legal perspective, Muhyiddin cannot but support the announced 'pelan peralihan' because it has already been endorsed by the supreme council.

Muhyiddin would breach party discipline if he is to 'disagree' with the supreme council's decision. But he is known to be a party man, and had always fallen in line when the time comes. But this is not an ordinary challenge for Muhyiddin, who may feel that the time is ripe for him to move up and take on bigger responsibilities.

As for Ku Li, the seasoned campaigner did try to win the presidency once before, in 1987 to be exact. He lost to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad by 43 votes and left the party to form Semangat 46. Having buried the hatchet with Dr Mahathir, Ku Li returned to Umno and disbanded Semangat 46.

It's not yet plain sailing for Pak Lah and Najib though. The Umno branches start their annual general meetings on July 17 to be followed by divisional meetings in October. I'm quite sure that Pak Lah and Najib, or their boys, will have a plan already in place to ensure that they get the required number of nominations to retain their posts.

The supreme council did not issue any instruction to stop anyone from contesting the top two posts. But in politics, anything can happen and some observers feel that 'it's not over till it's over.'

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Uni VC says blogs sharpen students' minds

UNIVERSITY students can participate in blogs to sharpen their mind, expand their knowledge and improve language skills, according to a university vice chancellor recently. The students were also given do's and dont's of blogging.

This came from the vice chancellor of University Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP), Prof Datuk Dr Kamaruddin Hussin at a meeting he had with students on July 2 in Kangar.

This is quite refreshing actually. He said that the students have been allowed to make postings in credible blogs but urged them to stay away from those that created negative impressions about the government.

He was reported to have said: "It is not a crime to blog or to comment in any blog. But it is the blogger's responsibility to give correct and positive information so that it does not affect the government and university management.

"I think that these on-line political critics could teach students a thing or two. Their writings could help teach students how to express their ideas," the academician said.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

An UMNO ADUN at the Istana gate...

IS AN NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) person more influential than a wakil rakyat? I pondered over this when I saw a picture of an elected politician handing over a memorandum to a representative of the Selangor Palace yesterday.

The picture showed the politician, Abdul Rahman Palil, State Assemblyman (UMNO) for Sementa, handing over the memorandum to the Selangor Sultan ADC, Komander Ahmad Ramli Kardi.

Abdul Rahman was there in his capacity as the deputy president of the Malay Students Union of Selangor. The memorandum was to highlight to the Sultan of Selangor of what Abdul Rahman described as "political interferences in Islamic affairs in Selangor."

Abdul Rahman, who claimed that he represented 100 NGOs in the effort, only managed to pass the memorandum outside the gate of Istana Kayangan in Shah Alam. As far as I can recall, Abdul Rahman is more recognised as a politician than an NGO person.

Then why the NGO hat? Could it be that an NGO taking up the issue has a better chance of being heard? And make a difference? Or the politician in him feels that he won't get far with the effort?

I often wonder why would an elected politician want to go round declaring himself an NGO person and suppress his political persona? Anyone knows?

Friday, July 4, 2008

Who's the real Balasubramaniam?

ON THURSDAY, private eye P Balasubramaniam swore that he has information which link DPM Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to Altantuya Shaariibuu, and was even told that Najib had a sexual relationship with the Mongolian woman.

Less than 24 hours after his five-minute fame on TV with PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Bala retracted his sworn statement with a new one. This time Bala said the first statement was inaccurate and not true. He was accompanied by a different lawyer, and there was no TV coverage when he made the statement.

It was reported that only a Bernama reporter was present when the statement was issued. Others were late but still managed to get copies of the statement. Bala, it seemed, was silent all the way.

Both revelations by Bala, who served the Police Force before going private, stunned the public. The first was explosive, the second mind-boggling. I'm not sure if this is the last we hear of Bala's statutory declaration. We all know that the Police will 'talk' to him a lot more.

It is these kind of sensational news that sell newspapers. Some of us have started watching the 8pm TV news again. Blogs like Rocky's Bru, Bigdog, Jalan Sudin, the Scribe, Hard-T, Anwar Ibrahim, news portals Agenda Daily and Malaysiakini are getting big hits from update-hungry readers.

I won't be surprised if some enterprising writers of political books will be compiling all details on this most extraordinary developments and churn out their version before the end of the year. With Umno's party elections due in December, these books will be best sellers, and may even influence, albeit a little, the outcome of some posts.

I like to believe that the truth is somewhere in between these allegations and counter allegations. If the Perlis Mufti have his way, an oath before the Quran and in the name of the Almighty would soon reveal who is telling the truth, or whose 'truth' is more correct and final.

We could all do with a bit of Divine intervention.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Anwar stole limelight, gain visibility

AMIDST the sodomy allegation that has kept tongues wagging the past few days, little attention is paid to MCA youth chief Datuk Liow Teong Lai, who attributed the MCA's poor showing in the recent general election to Umno's arrogance and weakness.

Liow, the Health Minister, said the MCA wants to change and reinvent itself. The pending departure of Datuk Ong Ka Ting and Datuk Chan Kong Choy is the clearest indication that the MCA is serious about change.

Liow said reinventing the party to make it relevant to the changing political landscape has to be done swiftly and in earnest. UMNO and MIC should also take serious steps in changing the party"s mindset so that they can continue their struggle in the Barisan Nasional as the dominant coalition.

The fact that UMNO and MIC continue to be led by the same leaders show that the reinvention process may take longer, or not at all. There's also the fear that the party may not even make it to the next general election sometime in 2012.

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Tan Sri S Samy Vellu have indicated publicly that they will seek re-election to their top posts in UMNO and MIC respectively. Any reinvention under the old guards are not likely going to happen in the near future.

Liow's statement should spur UMNO and MIC to look into their party hierarchy as soon as possible, lest they find themselves toothless and irrelevant. But the sodomy allegation and several police reports lodged in the last few days have overshadowed Liow's statement.

Attention is diverted to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Raja Petra Kamaruddin, who separately gets maximum publicity in the newspapers and TV. Much energy and thought is directed to the issues concernng both of them. So much so that the country's top leaders are locked in trying to counter accusations of wag the dog and dirty politics.

With so much attention on these two, I wonder who's looking into our economic problems. The next few months will see more politicking especially with the party election among BN component parties just round the corner.

While waiting for this, Anwar has stolen the limelight and got himself into the international media network, thus giving himself continued visibility locally and abroad. His plan to be Prime Minister by mid-Sept could be on hold until everything is sorted out.