Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Post 13GE Price Hikes and How Trustworthy are Political Leaders?

Not very trustworthy it seems.
Within weeks of getting the mandate of the 13GE, the BN regime has taken swift action to cut the much-debated federal deficit that threatens the national economy.

Let us look at some of the measures:
1. Sugar price has gone up from RM2.50 to RM2.80 a kg and this happened even though the commodity price has gone down. The reason? The government signed a long term contract to supply the monopoly that controls sugar distribution in Malaysia.
2. The tariff for electricity is going up even though TNB had a profitable year last year.
3. Toll rates are reported to be going up as one minister has claimed it is just part of the toll agreements signed with the different companies. malaysiakini has the story about Impending toll rates

It seems the second and third items will impact consumers the most, excluding the Prime Minister who will enjoy his RM2 million benefit on electricity charges at Putrajaya. Of course the executive jets will still be available to the favored few at RM400k per overseas flight.
Not forgetting the impending GST that is going to hit us all in the pocket.

I propose we should demand a new toll agreement scheme for both present and future toll companies.
The basic deal must include the following:

1. All toll agreements cannot be extended after the initial 20 or 25 years.
2. The government must take back all toll companies after the agreement expires.
3. At the end of the period, the government may re-tender the toll company and the new company may collect toll for maintenance and safety services; at a rate between 20 to 30% of the last toll.
4. All toll companies must publish their annual accounts in national newspapers and government websites. At present PLUS has been taken private so we will not know annual profits.

Any widening of expressway etc cannot be compensated by extending the toll period and must come out of profits.
All roads will be toll free unless toll companies guarantee that no motorist is delayed more than 10minutes during the four major festive seasons. The toll free period will be for three days for each festival - one day before, the festival day and one day after.
We must impose such KPIs on toll companies so motorists get a fairer deal.

Let's face it.
We have not held the government too accountable by giving them such a long mandate.
It is time we asked them to prove they really know how to manage the economy.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

malaysiakini and Testing Female Trainees before National Service - MORE UNNECESSARY SPENDING?

According to this news report, the government plans to increase the NS intake in 2014 to 150,000, an increase of 10,000 based on popular request; supposedly based on demand by young Malaysians. 

There is another news report there will be mandatory pregnancy testing for female trainees based on the argument that there were six cases of women who gave birth during the 3-month program since it began in 2004. 

Let us examine some numbers to check the financial justification for such an expenditure:

Since 2004, the NS program has been run for 10 years.
Let us assume that the average intake has been 100,000 per year intake and the boy/girl ratio on average has been 50/50 - this gives an average of 50,000 females each year.

Since 2004, a total of 500,000 females have completed NS and of these 6 have given birth at camp.
Suppose the cost per delivery and related costs is RM5000 - that gives a total of RM30,000.

Suppose a mass pregnancy test conducted at 1Malaysia clinic costs RM5 only? 
This means to test 500,000 females will cost RM2,500,000.

How does the NS scheme justify such expenditure?
You spend at least RM2.5mil in order to prevent the cost of RM30,000?

It looks as if this government has no basic idea to rein in rising costs. Instead of increasing the intake by 10,000, it should simply fill up the spaces of those who have chosen not to go for NS as many claim it is just a waste of time anyway.

In fact those girls who delivered in camp should have been invited to return to camp and have one or two sessions to share their stories so that others could avoid their mistakes if it was an unwanted pregnancy.

I also recommend the NS Directors should go and attend basic Mathematics as they seem to propose measures with such illogical reasoning!


photo: thanks to scottthong.wordpress.com  






Thursday, July 25, 2013

malaysiakini has NOT asked "Why Have Taxpayers been MADE to PAY RM10 billion EXTRA for three POWER PLANTS?"

I believe it was Dr Mahathir who remarked that corruption is so bad now it is above the table.
One major contributing factor is that many deals are not via public tender but via direct negotiations.

Thus it is not surprising as without competitive bids, there is plenty of room for errors and commissions. Even after the RM600mil Scorpene scandal, the authorities have not improved transparency - in fact, things appear to have become worse. Now it is not only done over the table but even reported as news in the national press!
     
The first section relates to the purchase of power generating plants over two years under the Star article 1MDB in RM1.2bil deal.
The second report was done in China under the Star article
Genting sells Suzhou power plant for RM22.34m

All these deals are being finalised by 2013 and thus the purchases make interesting reading; especially since Genting is involved in two of the deals, namely Mastika and Suzhou.

This analysis is different from the two earlier ones and for this table, the percentage of the company purchased is converted to the effective MW purchased.
Thus if 50% of company is bought, then the amount paid is for 50% of the plant's MW as no other details are given.
The column "Actual MW bought" totals the MW of the 3 Power Stations paid by 1MBD and the total is 5704MW for RM12,000 mil.

Now if we analyse the Suzhou deal made by Genting, they could only get RM0.35mil per MW.
If we apply this rate of RM0.35mil per MW to the 1MBD deals totalling 5704MW, the total cost should only be RM1985Mil and not the RM12000mil.

So what has happened to RM10billion of taxpayers funds?
It certainly looks rather fishy without further justifications.  

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Something FISHY for the Auditor-General's Annual Report of HORRORS?


This chart is an analysis of two business reports in the Star, Malaysia.

The first section relates to the purchase of power generating plants over two years under the Star article 1MDB in RM1.2bil deal.
The second report was done in China under the Star article
Genting sells Suzhou power plant for RM22.34m

All these deals are being finalised by 2013 and thus the purchases make interesting reading; especially since Genting is involved in two of the deals, namely Mastika and Suzhou.

To explain a little about the table, the "adjust to 100%" is to enable price comparisons as if the entire MW capacity had been bought over.
To do a basic evaluation of the purchases, you need to compare the column "Cost per MW" and this is given in RMmil.
At first sight, it appears that 1MBD has been paying too much for a standard equipment like a power generator.
If you look at the Genting sales, the China deal is almost 10 times sheaper than what 1MBD paid in Malaysia. Was it really on a "willing buyer, willing seller basis'? What was the compelling reasons for such an vast disparity in prices?
It does seem that there has been a very expensive learning curve as 1MDB has managed to reduce the Cost per MW from RM3.27mil to RM1.14mil but even RM1.14mil is three times more expensive than the China deal.

Anyone like to suggest why we are paying so much more for a standard utility? This can only translate to higher electricity tariffs.  
 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

malaysiakini and Looking at DEVIOUS DEALS of 1MBD


malaysiakini has this interesting response to the minority shareholders defending the attractive pay package of the CEO of Puncak Niaga - Puncak Niaga chief should be axed, not rewarded and this must be the first time in Malaysian history that a company that is not really making profits has the CEO getting the support of minority shareholders.
I attended the HSBC AGM in London last year and the CEO and other directors came under heavy criticism for the bank's money-laundrying charges in the USA.
Meanwhile, the wheeling and dealing goes on in Malaysia. The chart above is drawn from details of a story in the Star Business Section of 6th July 2013.
It seems that 1MBD has not been really prudent in the purchase of power producing plants. The chart shows the deals made in the past two years and the numbers are not very appealing.
If you study the numbers in the right column, you will note that Malaysian taxpayers paid almost 3 times for the Mastika deal in 2012 compared to the latest one Jimah that is almost finalised on "a willing seller, willing buyer" basis.
One only wonders if the buyer was "too willing" in the first 2 deals or is there a learning curve involved?
Of course the analysis is only dealing with the raw data. Other factors can be considered like:
1. How profitable are the companies?
2. How well maintained are the plants?
3. How obsolete are the plants?
4. What contracts do these plants have with the main purchasers?
Do you think the agreements are DEVIOUS or OK?


(note: price adjusted to reflect 100% ownership to enable comparisons)  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

malaysiakini and BECOMING a Better Nation

There is this interesting story about a serious mistake in the swearing-in of Ministers before they were appointed as Senators. Some will claim it is a small matter but it does reflect the attitude of national leaders who should know better - now this is a good example of how leaders set the tone for the nation.

The following story is fiction but hope springs eternal. Let us all pray that this will happen.

Following national unrest after the 13GE when the BN received less than 49% of the popular vote but still managed to retain control of the government, the government established a Parliamentary Select Committee to examine and recommend how the election process can be improved so that the concept of “one man, one vote” can be applied more effectively and give Malaysians the opportunity to select the government of their choice.

The Speaker is the Chairman of the PSC for Democratic and Human Rights Practices and he will be explaining the important steps to strengthen democracy and the democratic process for Malaysians.

REPORT
Since the May 5th GE, it has been unfortunate that many Ministers made mistakes in their new roles and instead of healing the wounds and reconciling Malaysians, some even made matters worse.

These include:
1. The Home Minister asking the Malaysians who do not support the BN to migrate elsewhere.
2. The Minister of Trade advising Malaysian traders that they had the right to boycott business owners who support the opposition.

These public remarks have not helped the domestic economy and many foreign investors have delayed their projects. Our GDP shrank by 2% in the last quarter and unemployment has risen to 5%. The KLCI has also fallen by 100 points in the past 2 months.

The PM realized the challenges facing the economy and wants to address the many issues and truly wants a genuine reconciliation of all Malaysians after the divisive General Elections.

In fact the PSC has been meeting in secret for the past 3 months in order that our work could go on without any outside interference.

All the 9 members, including 4 from the Opposition, are loyal citizens whose main concern is the security and progress of our nation. We agreed to meet and submit this report only to the press and without any conditions from the Prime Minister’s office or the Cabinet.

Such is the state of the nation that you are going to be the first one to be told of our recommendations. We ask that you publish our Press Release in full and then comment on the proposals.

The 13GE saw a record turn-out of voters at 85.4%. This augurs well for Malaysia as it shows that Malaysians want a bigger say in the management of the nation and willing to demonstrate their commitment to the nation.

The BN managed to secure enough seats to retain power; even though it lost the popular votes. This has created unrest among the population as this is the first time the BN has lost the popular vote and exposed many Malaysians to the practice of gerrymandering for the first time.
The Elections Commission implemented many changes in the elections process but there were complaints of missing names and the missing indelible ink is a serious issue.

Here is the summary of our main recommendations: As our work is being reported directly to the Press and not to the Cabinet, it shows that the Prime Minister is sincere in wanting major reforms for Malaysia. We request that you consider the proposals seriously but any constructive feedback can be made directly to the PMO.

GERRYMANDERING
At present, the ratio between the largest and smallest constituency is in the order of about 9 – with Putrajaya having 15,000 voters and large towns having more than 100,000. In effect, 1 voter in Putrajaya has the same voting power as 9 voters in a city. This is grossly unfair.

We propose new guidelines for delineation so that by 2016, this discrepancy be reduced to maximum of 2 between any 2 constituencies.
We propose the following to reduce gerrymandering.
Urban seats to have population between 40,000 to 80,000 and will split into 2 after reaching 80,000
Semi-urban seats between 30,000 to 60,000 and will split into 2 after reaching 60,000
Rural seats to have between 20,000 to 40,000 and will split into 2 after reaching 40,000.

The classification between urban, semi-urban and rural seats will removed by 2020 or when the seat reaches the population of the next classification; whichever comes earlier.
In other words by 2020, seat classification is going to become obsolete and we will adopt only one yardstick- the 40,000 guideline.

In order to reduce the effects of gerrymandering in 14GE, all smaller seats like Putrajaya will be merged with an adjacent constituency so that the population criteria will be maintained by 2020.
It is proposed that the postal codes will be the main factor to decide how constituencies will be redrawn.

ELECTIONS COMMISSION
We propose that the Elections Commission should become an independent body and not operate from the PMO. A PSC to have oversight on Democratic Practices and Human Rights will audit and report all irregularities of the EC to Parliament.

CLEAN UP OF ILLEGAL CITIZENS
As the RCI on Project IC revealed, some 100,000 foreigners have been given Mykads without proper documentation and the NRD is largely responsible for this problem.

Thus we have established a special task force to re-check all these instant citizens via a 2-stage process.
In stage 1, all will be given a red Mykad and the blue Mykad will have to be returned pending approval. Proper checks will be conducted for birth certificates, citizenship papers, proof of residence, marriage certificates etc before the Mykads are re-issued.
Those who do not qualify will retain their red Mykads and eligible to apply for citizenship after 5 years.

THE ROLE OF NGOS
The PSC recognizes the important role of NGOs in a democratic nation like Malaysia. Hence we have agreed that BERSIH officials be appointed to assist in the clean-up of the electoral rolls.

CARETAKER GOVERNMENT DUTIES AND CODE OF CONDUCT DURING ELECTIONS
We propose that a caretaker government be appointed during the 14 days of the elections campaign. Also no government machinery will be used for polls campaign and all official cars etc will be surrendered to the caretaker government.
The outgoing PM will appoint a caretaker subject to the approval of Parliament. No special policies may be announced that

VOTER EDUCATION
The population will enjoy access to all political parties via main stream media like newspapers and government TV stations. The Multi-media Ministry will also educate voters on the voting process and conduct during polls.
It is a shame that some voters were not aware that the indelible ink was only for marking their fingers only – some voters thought the ink was to be used for marking the ballot paper!

GENERAL ELECTIONS IN DECEMBER 2015
As it is the general consensus that the 13GE has too many incidents of fraud, failure of indelible ink, phantom voters and illegal voters to be considered free and fair elections, we propose that the next GE will be fixed in December 2015 to enable ALL Malaysians to have a free hand to decide their future.
All these points will have to be approved by Parliament in a special sitting within 30 days of this Press Conference.

CONCLUSION
The Prime Minister believes that these proposals will enable Malaysians to understand more clearly the workings of a maturing democracy. We request that newspapers and other media have a special role to play in this great endeavor. With your cooperation we can build a great nation based on truth and justice.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

malaysiakini and Improving Malaysia’s Elections Systems(2)

Apart from improving the security during storage of the postal and advanced voting ballot boxes for which it was reported that the police did not allow the scrutiny promised by the EC Chairman, there are other matters that can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the polling process.

First of all, the EC Chairman should not be making empty promises that are not going to be kept:

Publicly stating that the ballot boxes could be guarded by agents of political parties like even sleeping in the police stations was a mistake unless he really has the authority to order the station chiefs to allow such a facility. One wonders if ballot boxes are safe in police stations when so many remand detainees still get killed in police custody.

Then there was the boast of the indelible ink that would last for “x” days. I only washed dishes twice on polling day and Presto! My finger is as clean as before. No need for any special cleaning liquid. Now he gives the feeble excuse that people are trying to subvert the EC’s credibility. In my mind, the EC lost much of its credibility long before the GE. The EC now claims that after all indelible ink is not the main control of voters as the electoral roll is the main determinant.

I agree with that IF the EC had taken more active steps to clean up the rolls before the elections as they had 4 months to do so with the cooperation of BERSIH and the Selangor state government. Why did they not accept such cooperation if it was incapable of doing so?

It is not rocket science to use computers to throw up lists of suspicious candidates with the following characteristics:

Set 1 Same date of birth(same Mykad)                    Similar name
Set 2 No definite address
Set 3 More than 10 voters at same address
Set 4 Mykad was replaced (can verify with NRD for supporting documents like birth certificate, citizenship documents etc)

Just accepting a Mykad as proof of eligibility to vote is not adequate and if these background reports are done every 6 months on a regular basis, the number of phantoms will disappear.

A Select Parliamentary Committee should have oversight of how the EC conducts activities to verify the existence of such voters. If we have a credible system of checking regularly for phantom voters, the use of indelible can actually be replaced.

I believe indelible ink can cause spoilt votes as the ink can create smudges in the wrong places.

THE POLLING PROCEDURES

First of all, there were many new KTMs appointed by the EC and many did not have adequate training or guidelines about the procedural matters especially with respect to Borang 13 and 14 – the latter is actually required by law to be given to the polling agents after the ballots have been counted and finalized(if a recount is done).

Now there has been a police report about a KTM refusing to issue the Borang 14, an offence that carries a fine and /or jail term. Why would any Elections Officer want to do that? In my own saluran, the KTM offered to allow us to copy his Borang 13 and 14 and overall, he was quite a good person but he was also a newbie, often checking his notes and often communicating with officials outside the room.

Why do KTMs even have to be civil servants?
To me the KTM is an important role in the democratic process and hence the KTM can be any qualified Malaysian who has undergone a test to prove his competence.

The Elections Commission should in face conduct perhaps a week-long course each year and maintain a register of those who pass the practical and theory tests.

I suggest KTMs should provide a performance bond of say RM1000 so that they will be punctual and diligent during the polls. That way we will not have KTMs wasting time by refusing to provide copies of Borangs 13 and 14.

After all, it is quite a serious offence according to the Elections Laws.

PAPERWORK

The Borang 13 and 14 can be upgraded and redesigned as follows:

These forms can be multi-copy with different colours-one for the EC records and three more copies for the candidates.

The following section will be included at the bottom of the form. “I certify that I have received the Borang13(or 14) from the KTM” Signed by: Paca1 Paca2 Paca3 -------------------------- ------------------------------- ---------------------

If the KTM returns the Borang13 and 14 without the signatures of the pacas, it is automatically deemed an Elections offence. 

SPR PRINTOUT ON VOTING CENTRES

I suggest the information that one gets on entering the Mykad details is inadequate. Only the school name is given and that does not provide enough info for a new voter to locate the voting centre. The full address shbe provided plus the GPS information so that no one will need to search for the proper voting centre.

COMPUTERISED VOTING?

I wonder how far are we from the era of digital voting that can solve many of the current complications like double voting by the military, phantom voters and other methods of cheating.
I envisage such a system would have a Mykad reader similar to those used in banks so a fingerprint can be scanned. We can also have a digital camera to record the faces to tracebacks can be done in cases of possible fraud.

However instead of re-inventing the wheel, we can adopt the Brazilian system that has been used since 1996 and the experience has been good according to this article.
We should study the Brazilian model as it appears harder to cheat compared to ballot boxes that fall from the skies!
UNFAIR REPRESENTATION?

Many observers have commented that the EC’s delineation of constituencies creates an unfair representation for the majority of voters. The EC should be ordered to develop a fairer size distribution for Parliamentary seats instead of the obvious evidence of gerrymandering.

Putrajaya is a case in point where about 16,000 civil servants are basically given the same representation as 80,000 voters in an urban constituency – this is a gross injustice!

I suggest parliamentary constituencies be divided as follows:

Urban constituencies 40,000 to 80,000 voters with a spilt after the population increases beyond 80,000

Semi-urban 30,000 to 60,000 splitting after 60,000

Rural 20,000 to 40,000 splitting after 40,000

For Putrajaya, it can be treated as a semi-urban block and merged with another constituency.

How to delineate the constituencies?
A simple method is to use postal codes as the starting pont - if not enough in one area, can use 2 or 3 postal codes.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

malaysiakini's FREE reports during Malaysia’s 13th General Elections and How to IMPROVE the Elections Process(1).


Congrats to m’kini for its free reports during Malaysia’s General Elections and particularly this story about the ordinary citizens trying to protect ballot boxes.

I suggest that the concerted efforts of BERSIH and other NGOs have improved the election process somewhat but there are still loop-holes that may jeopardize the integrity of the elections and these could be classified under administrative and legalistic issues.

First of all, the Elections Commission should not be reporting to the Prime Minister; especially since we do not appoint a caretaker PM during the polls and hence there is a conflict of interest in the present system.

Of course there has been wholesale abuse of government machinery like executive jets and helicopters and even civil servants are used during the campaign period. Dare the EC Chairman take action on such abuse?

The treatment of postal votes too leaves much to be desired.

I have the following questions with respect to postal votes:
1. How are the ballots allocated to different seats?
2. Is the register of postal votes determined with the same cut-off date as that of normal voters?
3. When is the allocation of constituency done?
4. What is the longest time allowed between the time postal votes are cast and the polling date?
5. What is the grace period for the ballots to be sent to the counting centres?

These questions indicate some areas which can affect the final polls outcome if postal votes can be tampered with during the period after voting to arrival at the Main Counting Centre.

SUGGESTIONS

I suggest that since military camps have different sizes, the number of postal votes is officially determined for each camp each year and that number cannot be increased for the elections. We simply cannot have the whole army transferred to a particular camp just so the Minister of Defence enjoys a safe seat!

The transfer cut-off date for registering of postal voters should be the same as for the civilian register. The postal votes should be allocated to a specific constituency each year at the same time as the number of postal voters.

The time postal votes are cast and the polling date should be kept to a maximum like 3 days as follows:
1 day balloting and transfer to a secured location that must have cctv surveillance with online transmission to 3 remote sites plus security guards.
1 day transfer to the Main Counting Centre(MCC)
1 day at Main Counting Centre I wonder if keeping ballot boxes at police stations is a good idea when we still cannot guarantee the safety of prisoners in remand.

There should be a definite cut-off window of time for the ballot boxes to arrive at the MCC – I suggest between 3pm to 4pm so that various checks on seals etc can be completed before the actual counting. Late ballot boxes will not be allowed in.

There should be only one entrance at the MCC for the postal ballot boxes to be brought in and details of the transport should be provided to all parties.

THE COUNTING PROCESS.

As the m’kini story indicates, the independent candidate lost by just 64 votes out of the total cast, it appears that a recount would be the most suitable manner to determine the results instead of having to file an Elections Petition that will take months to resolve.

I would make the following new rule for a recount if all the Borang 14 and ballot boxes have been properly handled. The 4% recount rule at the polling stations is subject to the following:

“The difference in the winning margin must be 1% or less and after this recount at the Main Counting Centre, each party of the 2 main contestants and the SPR can ask only ask for an additional recount ONCE.”

Table is compiled from Comments in the article – for illustration purpose only. Lau Lee (BN) 7,905 votes; Koh Boon Heng (Ind) 7,841 votes; Jamaluddin (PKR) 2,435 votes; Mohd Nor (Ind) 174 votes; rejected & unreturned 717 votes; MAJORITY 64 votes. Let’s see how the 1% rule applies to this scenario. BN 7905 Ind 7841 PKR 2435 Ind2 174 Spoilt 717 Total 19072 Majority 68 % of total 0.36

In this case, if we apply the 1% rule, a recount must be done. This better than putting more workload on the justice system and reduce bias as the votes are direct evidence and the people are the best protectors of our democracy.

If such a recount takes place, we can have perhaps 5 sets of counting teams so that the entire process of counting about 2000 ballots will take about 90 minutes. Surely this is better than waiting for the results in court?

photo: thanks to m'kini

Monday, May 6, 2013

13 General Elections - a day as a Counting and Polling Agent

I attended the training for PACA many months ago and during the early days, the number was not more than 30 on a good day.
In fact I lost some interest after a while as the polls were delayed until the end of  Najib's term and the training seemed haphazard.
Then about two weeks before the elections, there was an SMS advising those who had received training to attend a refresher course and so my wife and I went for that - now the numbers had increased to some 50 to 60 persons and the number of young faces was significant.
When we had the last training on May 1st, the number had grown by leaps and bounds and the room was filled to capacity; with more than 200 enthusiastic volunteers.
Then on 4th May during the last-minute briefing, our MP hopeful addressed the volunteers and the atmosphere in the room was full of energy-with even a new batch of green PACA wannabes who were no doubt inspired by the mega-rallies in the JB area; especially with Lim Kit Siang contesting in Gelang Patah. On polling day I woke at 4:50am as I wanted to prepare some sandwiches and also have breakfast before reporting for duty at the polling station in Taman Melodies, where we used to live. We arrived before 7am and were able to enter the teachers' car park of the private school and entered the polling station via the back gate. It could be considered a security breach as all the controls were at the front of the main entrance. We had a last-minute briefing and went to our respective stations(saluran)at 7:30am. The polls officer was a young courteous guy and at first there were three female clerks in charge of the various duties like identifying the voter, painting the second finger on the left hand with indelible ink and the issuing of the two ballot papers, one for Parliament and the other for state. The voting opened at 8am sharp and the turnout was heavy, with no lull in the proceedings. My relief polling agent took over at 10:30am and my wife and I drove to Taman Pelangi to the school where we voted for the past two elections. On the way we passed other polling centres and noted the heavy turnout. So we were pleasantly surprised to be able to park within 100 meters of the school entrance, wait two minutes to verify our saluran and then walk straight into the polling station without waiting at all. We were done with voting within five minutes. The only cheating I saw was the clerk at the SPR checking outside had a small piece of paper about A6 sized with a X marked on the BN symbol and the word "undi". I wanted to report her but was not familiar with the pacas in the school and she had hidden the paper under her work when It was my turn. The other problem with the polling at the school was that the ink used was not really indelible and my finger was totally cleaned up just after two sessions of dish-washing! What a waste of public funds - apart from the cost of the ink , maybe RM8 million and also another admin charge for the extra clerk at thousands of polling stations nationwide. So we were able to return home to catch up on some sleep before we were to report back for the next session at 4pm. At 4:30pm we reported for the final stage and there was no one waiting to vote. In fact from 4:30pm no one turned up to vote. At 4:45pm the polling officer announced that the station be closed but there were objections from one of the SPR clerks and also the two polling agents. So the station remained open till the official closing time. A note on the indelible ink: we were cheated by the supplier or the SPR as my finger became totally clean after just two sessions of washing some dishes!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

malaysiakini is FREE for 13th GE - Now this is a SONG for FREE Malaysians!


If you like this song, you can find the words by scrolling the comments below.
Suggest Pakatan leaders can try it out during their ceramahs!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The13th GE - don't just READ malaysiakini and get angry; Get Out and Do Your Part!

Some Malaysians are already complaining about elections overload and that is understandable from the constant stream of messages from the MSM and online magazines plus Facebook that is a major social medium used by the political parties and even concerned citizens.

By now you could have decided to vote one way or another or maybe still undecided if you are even going to the polls as you believe it's a waste of time anyway - both sides may not appeal to you.

If you are undecided, this video may give you some insight on why you need to consider the things that are important to you and help make the changes you want.





If you want changes, there is no other way than for you to get out of your very comfortable zone and doing more - but what can you do?

Here are some suggestions: these activities help to protect and strengthen the democratic practices but some training is required. Check the Tindak Malaysia website now.

  1. Become an elections observer
  2. Become a counting agent
  3. Become a polls agent
You need not be a member of any political party to be a volunteer. Please Google and find out how to contribute your service.

If you want to become more involved, here are some activities to educate yourself in how politics is done in Malaysia:

Attend ceremahs
Help in canvassing for votes for candidates - volunteers are always welcomed!

For those who are not able to physically involved, the least you can do is to share on FB ideas that you have read about how to bring about change in Malaysia.
Don't just share on FB but copy and paste on your wall as that prevents cyber-troopers from deleting postings.

Discuss the elections with your friend and relatives.
Go and vote early on polling day

At least when the election results are announced, you will know you did something worthwhile for the nation's progress.




Saturday, April 20, 2013

malaysiakini and the 13th General Elections - Will this Come True?




The last secret voyage of KDN Tun Abdul Razak, one of Malaysia's Scorpene submarines.
(This carton was drawn using Paintbrush)

Please double-click image to enlarge.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

malaysiakini and the 13th General Elections - Will Malaysia Become Another GREECE before the next Elections?


If one looks at the chart, the future is not looking so bright as it seems the government has been spending way beyond our means with expensive projects that do not appear to have a good return.
Looking at the years between 2003 and 2013, within 10 years the gross debt has increased from RM188,792bil to RM546,015bil or almost 2.9 times!

Najib alphabet soup programs seem to be hastening the day that we become the basket case of ASEAN as this government has created massive debt-creating vehicles like 1MBD - this company does not borrow millions but billions!

You can read the malaysiakini article 10 questions for 1MDB
for better insight about how the government can spend so recklessly. So who is person who has to bear the debt? Ultimately it is the taxpayers who have to pay. In the recent case of Cyprus, even those with savings in the banks lost money and some up to 40% of large deposits. The estimated population of Malaysia is 29,628,392(CIA estimate at July 2013). This means that for each Malaysian, there is a debt burden of about RM18,400. Does the government really care about reducing the debt when the PM appears too generous to give out money so freely in order to win votes? Please decide carefully before you vote.

Here are some KPIs that I consider important for my vote - Please watch the 10-minute presentation below that can help you decide.


You have the POWER to help change Malaysia!

Friday, March 29, 2013

UNDECIDED? Watch "Malaysia - A Question of LOYALTY"

I delivered this speech at a ToastMasters Speech Contest. Please feel free to share - it will help new voters and also those who are undecided.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Malaysia- To Change or NOT to Change?

The General Elections will be held soon and it is important for all voters to decide what issues are important to them. Ultimately, you have the POWER to choose the party that leads us in government. I hope this video can help you to decide.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

malaysiakini and the Pandora's Box in Sabah.....

This letter by Mariam Mokhtar is a good report of what has gone wrong in Sabah. She describes Najib's affairs all off-target and even if she does not have all the secret documents, it makes a compelling read.

What exactly went wrong in Sabah?

I have the following broad items that could relate to our current dilemma:

Malaysia has been instrumental in getting the peace accord between the Philippines and MNLF signed so that peace(?) has broken out in southern Philippines. In the process, those that lost out in the peace deal may not want to lay down their weapons and looked further south (ie Malaysia) for a soft target.

For unknown reasons or reasons best known to only a few, Malaysia has given out and still giving ICs to many illegals of dubious loyalty. For instance, it has been recorded that the locals in Sabah are now outnumbered by foreigners.....how many of these have an IC given under Project IC?

Those armed intruders may have many relatives and supporters among those given ICs and maybe the "new citizens" believe that the time is right to reclaim Sabah for their own? After all, if you outnumber the locals, you can even elect the new state government! Also the RCI that is going on has revealed many aspects of Project IC that may have spooked the "new citizens" as many Malaysians are really angry at how the BN regime has cheated in past elections.

Pandora's box has been opened in Sabah and it is hoped that the authorities take the following measures to restore some confidence of Malaysians in the instruments of state:

1.Suspend all election campaigning and re-convene an Emergency sitting of Parliament. If the Cabinet are BLUR on how to handle the situation, let our MPs debate the security issues.

2.Produce the list of all the "instant citizens" registered under Project IC and these names to be removed from the Electoral Rolls. Grant them and their children PR status; with the children granted citizenship after 18 years with good behaviour and passing the citizenship test.

3.Take legal actions against the leaders involved in Project IC unless it can be proved that the matter was debated in Parliament and approved. 

Simply killing the armed intruders will not solve the Sabah issues. Those men are just symptoms of the larger problems we are facing.
ALLAH help us to do the right thing!

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Venice Adventure (6)


When you have 5 nights in a city, you tend to take things a little easy for we normally plan for 3 nights only.
The next day we headed to San Marco again for it is the heart of all activities; especially during the Carnevale. We made use of the free shuttle provided by the hotel and as you can see no one else was on the water taxi.



This is the expensive shopping arcade around the San Marco area; mostly branded goods - you know the saying - "If you have to ask the price, you can't afford it!" You can see some walking costumes in the distance.

Isn't that a colourful pair? They had a long runway!
This girl in red was posing for a photo shoot and we too were allowed to take her photo. Is that supposed to be an apple in her hands?


A detailed look at some of the really intricate masks for sale. These will cost hundred of Euros!


We wanted to get to San Giorio across the water and returned to the vaporetti stops-some face painters were located here and business was brisk.  


This family was taking in the sights too or rather, everyone was attracted to their bright and interesting costumes - the Orange family, perhaps?
That twirling pleated skirt can confuse you!

We took the No2 vapo and took the lift to the first landing in the spire of San Giorgio. The church charges EU3 for the lift and it is worth it for there are no windows etc to block the view. We were a little early and there was no one there except us for a few minutes. I guess the Carnevale attractions had reduced the number of visitors?    

This is the church of La Salute that forms a triangle with San Marco and San Giorgio - one of the many churches and museums we did not visit.

This is one of the most popular and familiar views of Venice - Saint Mark's square taken from across the water in San Giorgio.


For art lovers, there are thousands of paintings to be viewed in Venice - mostly religious scenes and many of the work is displayed in churches. This was in the Correr Museum - note the security device at the bottom right corner of the frame.

This was dinner for the day. We bought half a roasted chicken and a few potatoes from a supermarket. There is a Co-op chain in Venice but the locations are not prominent; except for the one opposite the vaporetta stations at Piazzale Roma. (we missed it on the first night in the storm)


Two questions for you to do: 1.How much is the cost of dinner?


2. Was there enough food for 2 of us?
We had some food leftover - salad would have been nice! You need to click on the smaller photo to see the prices- Bon appetit!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Vision 2020 or "Malaysia Dreamin' "

PAKATAN have published their manifesto whereas BN has not- maybe it's their "no debate" culture? I wrote this in July 2005 and it was published in malaysiakini.

In view of the imminent Elections, you can use this article as a guideline to evaluate what each side have to offer.....you can even add more items to the list. 
/What you can do is print a copy and then do a 5 minute marking on all the points -
+ if you think the item is passable or
- if you think it is not acceptable

As we prepare to celebrate our 47th anniversary of Merdeka, it is a good time to reflect on Malaysia’s progress and discuss how we can prepare for the challenges ahead.

Malaysia is truly a blessed country with abundant rainfall, no natural disasters, tremendous oil and gas reserves, a population with a pragmatic mind-set, a good infrastructure of roads and transport links, a well established manufacturing base, and fantastic conditions to grow estate crops like oil palm, rubber, cocoa and timber.

However, if we read some of the letters being sent to newspapers and Malaysiakini, there is a growing concern that our tropical paradise is in jeopardy.

These are some of the main issues concerning Malaysians:

 We had the world’s tallest building but yet cannot provide basic housing for the masses.

 We have many links to overseas universities but yet churn out graduates who cannot read and write English.

 We have a grandiose palace of justice but yet cannot dispense justice in a timely manner.

 We have some of the world’s best talents but yet are not prepared to induce them to stay here.

 We have grand plans for education and yet cannot produce teachers of caliber.

 We have a sophisticated identity check system and yet a million illegal immigrants roam freely.

 We have a large car population and also qualify to be among the world’s worst drivers.

 We fly the most flags to show patriotism but break the laws without a blink.

 We build the grandest places of worship and yet deny others a basic freedom of religion.

 We entice talented former citizens to return and yet deny many young talents the chance to develop.

 We parrot the most slogans but maintain the minimum of programs.

 We spend funds on public inquiries but yet are kept in the dark on the findings.

 We have made the most changes to our constitution and yet we are less free now compared to the time of our nation’s birth.

 We remained silent as others trampled on our constitution and still we are too afraid to discuss our diminishing rights.

 We reelect the same members of Parliament who have looked after only their own self-interests.

 We have abundant water resources and yet we can experience supply shortages.

 We can develop modern townships and yet cannot preserve our vital bio-diversity.

 We boast a modern society and yet cannot select our local town council.

 We all perceive corruption to be a major ill and yet it is always someone else’s problem.

 We provide thousands of scholars the best education but take no action when they refuse to return home.

We have become the frogs in the cooking pot, where the heat has been so slowly raised that we cannot jump out but are being slowly cooked.

With so many problems in our society, only a population that has more sense than the leadership has enabled Malaysia to progress. In other words, we have advanced despite bad management of our resources.

However, this may not hold true in the future. As the population increases and more of our best talents leave for whatever reasons, the ratio of talents to incompetents will decrease and the day will come when it is just not sustainable and our outputs will fall dramatically. This is the reason why the NEP was discarded, as the country cannot afford to sustain an ever-increasing number of citizens with the “give me” mentality.

Whether we are prepared or not, global forces are going to impact on our country.
Perhaps our athletes’ disappointing results in the Olympics can serve as a major wake-up call. Failure in sports does not provide a killer blow but failing to compete in international markets will be a calamity of the highest order.

Already China and India have drawn billions of dollars in investments and are starting to flex their economic muscle. We should apply the words of our PM about “working harder and longer” in order to compete. I agree – Malaysia should work harder with better policies to ensure that the brain drain is minimized so that we have the best chance to compete on the global scene.

Otherwise, we should just avoid too high a population growth as we are going to need the present land just to support a population of farmers and fisherman – that is if we have not already destroyed all our fish resources.

When and Why Did We Unravel Good Systems?

Just as the MEB is being presented for Royal Assent for whatever reason, I repost this article taken from (malaysiawatch.blogspot.com/2006_07_01_archive.html) posted in July 2006.
It is good that the Education Ministry is taking steps to improve the student/teacher ratio in schools.
It must be a real headache for a teacher to manage classes of 40 plus students.
Even private schools should be required to fulfill the minimum ratios.

What is disconcerting is that they are only now going to impose bonds for teachers citing a mismatch between vacancies in states and teacher supply.

I find this rather strange. In the late 70s, teachers were trained mainly in colleges in Pantai and Penang and all those who passed expected to be posted anywhere for a few years. So when was this service requirement abolished?

The other news is the requirement to lodge a police report on the loss of MyKad before you could apply for a new one. I believe the law required you to apply for a temporary IC from the police as soon as you lose this security document. So why did someone approve this short cut of being able to apply for another MyKad without proper screening?

It seems that we have not progressed but regressed. We removed perfectly good procedures and adopted slack administration that has caused a security problem and thousands of teachers who are not going to be happy with rural postings.

The buck stops with the authorities responsible for the departments concerned.

Photo: Unending problems like the flow over Niagara Falls

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Even if you love BN, you MUST LOVE Malaysia MORE!

After Project IC, ALL Malaysians across the political divide MUST vote out BN in order to put our house in order.


Even if you love BN, you MUST love Malaysia MORE!

The next GE is not about PR or BN...it is about Malaysians taking back control of our destiny.

Project IC shows how the system has been compromised by greedy leaders to subvert our nation. If we do not act for this elections, your vote could become meaningless the next time. Please share this message with others if you care about FREEDOM.

A Full Day - Venice Tour (5)

We spent the second day going to the outer islands of Murano and Burano; the former is famous for beautiful glass ornaments and the latter for lace.

In ancient Venice, the authorities encouraged people to go there to learn new skills with just one proviso- you cannot leave once you are skilled. I guess that was an early version of how to protect intellectual property!
Still a few managed to escape and that is why we find other places in the world with such skills too.

This early morning shot shows a small boat unloading supplies - it has a small crane for heavier loads. Adds to the costs of transporting goods.

As we had a few minutes waiting for the private water taxi, we explored the hotel a little and decided to have some fun.

"How do you waltz in this?" The correct hand placement should be at the waist and not the hips!

My wife hiding between the 2 costumes and that really shows how wide that costume was.

A view of the hotel interior - showing the reception

and the lobby. The 2 "dolls" are located opposite where I am seated.

The display was to advertise the rental services they had at the hotel. We saw a few hotel guests in costume when they were walking back after a day's parade.





The water taxi was a few minutes late; so we ventured into the hotel's private garden that are supposed to be the largest in Venice.
This site was formerly a monastery and the garden had a tall wall. The hotel site stretches from the small canal in front to the Venice Lagoon at the back. There were a few hotel suites on both sides of the garden. 

Finally we are away on the private water taxi provided by the glass factory.
It was about a 10-minutes ride from the hotel directly to the glass factory.
The downside was we had to watch the glass-making process that was interesting enough (20 minutes) and visit their very expensive showroom.
The exhibits were really beautiful but we both would not consider paying in excess of $20,000 to be a wise investment. OK if you are a millionaire, though. 


At the glass factory...only a few women enter this trade and it takes many years to be considered a master.

My wife trying to mimic the glass clowns!

A collection of glass flowers in Murano - beautiful when they caught the sunlight!
A quiet bridge in Murano


Burano is famous for its brightly coloured houses...reminded me of Carmelito in Buenos Aires that has a more vibrant air.


Captured this "2-headed" lady on the vaporetta on the journey back to Venice.
Some were models on a day's shoot. We were rushing back for a 4:30 appointment with a local tour guide but were about 15minutes late. I had left his phone number at the hotel so had no way to contact him. Later we found out he had waited maybe 10 minutes for us and then left. We walked about 20 minutes from where the vaporetta docked to the Rialto Bridge, the rendezvous.



This is inside one of the numerous churches you will find in Venice. Just pay a visit and take a break from the busy routine that makes up most holidays.....but you have to pay to enter some churches.
Our night program was called "Love Duets" at the Palazzo Musicale. The singing was in Italian but that was no problem to appreciate the quality of the 2 singers, a tenor and a soprano. The setting was the hall of a palace and there was no sound system. No need for such as when the two sang, you could feel their energy vibrate in your body....it was that powerful. As the singers were at a distance of perhaps 5 meters, the effect was a little hair-raising at times!
You can see 2 of the sets for the Love Duets. The audience was about 20 and we met a young Chinese engineer who was on her own. The audience numbered 30 or fewer.  
  
By the time the concert ended at about 10pm, we were tired and headed back for a restful slumber. Do you burn up more energy during holidays?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Our Trip to Venice (4)

During Carnevale you will find people dressed up with different types of costumes - these three were sitting outside the Palazzo Ducale and made and an interesting shot with their fancy costumes.
This intricate mosaic landing was part of the interior staircase in an earlier post. The work is very fine and I daresay the workmanship is far superior to what we find in the best homes today. 

Another view along the Grand Canal. The water level was pretty high and the water lapped close to the floor of some buildings....at high tide, some building would be flooded.
Another picturesque figure...his headgear indicates he could be a high palace official.
Some gondolas near San Marco. The church in the background is San Giorgio and we took a lift up the tower to view San Marco from the other side of the Grand Canal. The No2 boat station is about 200 meters from this point.
Such a sweet smile from this pretty lady in her intricate costume.
San Giorgio again....it is on an island that contains only church buildings.

These seniors looked pompous in their costumes!
This little boy/girl? was picking confetti from the ground. At first we thought it was a fat puppy!
The Rialto Bridge taken at night - this is a good place for food and souvenirs.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Enjoying the Venice Carnevale (3)

 Our first day in Venice was a stark contrast to the night before.
The sun was shining, the sky was a glorious blue and it had stopped raining.
So we headed out at about 10am for our tour at the Palazzo Ducale at 11:45am.
You can also visit the place by yourself but we joined the Secret Itinerary tour that takes you into areas not open to those with the normal entrance ticket.
This is the wider lane that leads to the main shopping area in our district. You will observe that the lane is still wet from the rain.
As this is a residential area, there was not much going on at 10am on a Sunday morning.

  
 A group of friends dressed for the Carnevale. Most masked participants are really sporting and willing to pose with you. I have never come across this before.....in some parts, people expect some money.


 We got on the No1 vaporetta that was headed to San Marco, the centre of attraction for Venice, with or without the Carnevale. Both the No1 and 2 ply the Grand Canal and No1 is considered the slow boat; stopping at all the boat stations. No2 is the "express bus" so you must check where you are going before boarding.
If in doubt, ask the crew.
Important note: You must validate your ticket at the machine in the boat station before you board the vaporetta. With the 7-day ticket you only need to validate once as that marks the date and time of the first use.


On the route, we saw many interesting buildings with different styles as Venice has Greek, Islamic and Roman history dating more than 1500 years. 
 The photo (left) shows gondolas in their parking lots. The right photo shows part of the Rialto bridge, this area is good for cheap buys.
You can negotiate for a slight discount if you buy a lot from the smaller shops.


Gondolas and water taxis make up the smaller craft that ply the canals. There is another type called "traghetto" that have a strange practice - passengers are supposed to stand while being rowed a short distance; usually at a canal crossing. The fee is between $1 to $2 compared to the vaporetta fare of $6 for a ride (valid for 60minutes).($ to represent Euro)


This is the Grand Staircase of the Palazzo Ducale, the official residence and office of the political head of the Venetian state - at its height of empire, Venice was a powerful seafaring nation.
Visiting delegates would climb this impressive staircase to be welcomed by the Ducale, who would be waiting at the top of the stairs. 
The group of about 12 who went for the Secret Itinerary tour conducted in English that lasted for about 80 minutes. During the planning and on tour, we found Rick Steve's book on Venice a very helpful guide. There were 3 Romanian couples in this party and they all spoke excellent English. 
In fact on the flight into Treviso, I was seated next to a young Romanian couple who were going skiing. They had lived in the UK for a few years and Romania will soon join the EU.



Being the official palace of the head of state of a powerful city nation, the Palazzo Ducale(PD) had really beautiful finishing for the interior areas that were open to the public. This was the main stairwell inside the PD.
The photo at right shows how the state managed to control its interests.
This is a "letter-box" for informers to report crimes anonymously so that the "secret police" could investigate.

Sometimes, torture was used and judgements given after the trial was conducted.
We were taken to a room where the prisoner was strung up with hands tied behind the back for a few minutes.
This basic torture is called "strappado".
We were not allowed to take photos during the Secret Itinerary tour. 


This photo was taken in the Palazzo Ducale Museums. Can you guess what that is?







After the tour, we headed outside to where the action was. It was a riot of colour Venetian style. These gallant gents posed with my wife. They would have made good bodyguards!

There were a few stalls in the square selling costumes and masks for those who had the urge to join the masquerade.

The costumes were varied; from the wealthy merchants to hermits, from bubble bees to masked courtesans; we even saw a Star Wars trooper!

Carnevale has a nice family feel about it and even the children were not left out.

Away from the main centre of activity, we crossed a few bridges in search of a quick lunch.













Here a private water taxi sails away from the Bridge of Sighs in the background.
That is the white bridge linked to the Palazzo Ducale that leads to the jail.

We also saw these 2 ladies posing near a lamp post. If you think about it, Carnevale would be a fantastic opportunity for cross-dressers. With a mask and a dress, nobody would recognise you!


This last shot of San Marco basillica was taken at about 7:15pm when the sun was setting. Those mosaic tiles had some gold infused in them and hence the brilliant colour.
We were out and about from 10am to almost 10pm when we returned to our hotel. With all the walking and bridge crossing, I reckon we would have walked at least 6km on the first day.