Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Overwhelming Welcome for Jeff

Well, given the "last minute" nature of this announcement (well, it has to be kept in the bag for a while), and the fact that it was a working day, I had expected a turnout of about 30 people for the welcoming party at Food Foundry today. Even late last evening when a few additional people confirmed, I thought the max turnout will be 50 persons. My 30 pax booking for food and coffee should still be able to cope.

Well, the cafe burst at its seams by 10.30 am this morning mostly from fellow bloggers and many many well-wishers. There must have been at least 120 people squeezed into the cafe, or to put it literally, spilled over to the five-foot way and road side as well (thank goodness for the good weather ;)). Foreign and local press turned out in full force as well, with more then 3 TV cameras. Jonathan Kent from BBC was present to tape the event as well.

There was real excitement in the air. The decision to hold the welcome party at the cafe, instead of the party headquarters, which might have been too intimidating for some certainly was a wiser one albeit, a more costly one for the pocket ;)

At the event, DAP Selangor State Chairman, Sdr Ean Yong Hian Wah gave the opening welcome address followed by the party's Secretary General, Sdr Lim Guan Eng. Jeff then gave his much anticipated address, which he did with much aplomb. Finally, Parliamentary Opposition Leader and fellow blogger, Sdr Lim Kit Siang asked for more politicians to blog, and for more bloggers to join the fray.

Following that, Jeff launched his new blog, Jeff 4 Malaysia, which focuses on politics, distinct from his current Screenshots.

Oh, and a BIG thank you to Lulu who treated us to lunch. Eased the expenses for the day a little ;) Thanks also to the staff of Food Foundry who were extremely patient with us as we "turned" the place upside down for 2 hours. ;)

Well, I won't bore you with more details, but I've taken the liberty to quote Jeff's maiden political speech ;)
Beratnya mata memandang. Berat lagi bahu memikul.

TODAY, on the eve of the month we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Merdeka, I am making a political stand by joining the Democratic Action Party (DAP).

Looking back at our last 50 years as an independent country, if Malaysia had been a great nation, we should make it greater in the next fifty.

As a Malaysian, as a parent for a school-going child, and as an advocate of New Media who blogs, monitors, and analyses the trends in digital governance and global competitiveness, I have grave concerns for Malaysia.

It is my wish, in the years to come, to participate in the legislative process of Parliamentary Democracy in Malaysia, to share my ideas and to collectively contribute towards making Malaysia a greater country. I hope you, too, will join our clarion call for MALAYSIAN FIRST through DAP.

THINK “MALAYSIAN FIRST”. Counting on the audacity of hope, Malaysia will be a greater nation if only all of us can come together -- irrespective of race, religions and cultures – and share a common will to forge forward globally. We are Malaysians. In things we do, we should place MALAYSIAN FIRST as the top priority.

FOSTER REAL RACIAL INTEGRATION. However, this is not the case for us. The major portion of our first 50 years of nation building, and more so since 2004, has been discoloured with perpetual race-based politics. The term Bangsa Malaysia is but a rhetoric that is overly verbalized, but seldom practiced. We should break down the devil of race-based politics from this Merdeka.

GIVE US GOOD GOVERNANCE. The 2004 Barisan Nasional Election Manifesto had failed to address corruption and tainted governance as there are no Big Fish being caught; it had also failed to redeem the damaged reputation of the Police as there is no IPCMC. We are also faced with judicial verdicts which were questioned by the legal fraternity, at best, for being religiously divisive, and at worse, for going against the Federal Constitution.

WAKE UP TO KNOWLEDGE-BASED ECONOMY. Emphatically, in the last four years, the nation has regressed into the pre-Internet Dark Age where repressive tactics and draconian laws, such as the ISA and the OSA, had been arbitrarily used to intimidate proponents of dissenting –- but not necessarily unworthy – views expressed online and via the traditional media. It’s a state of fear, and it curtails people’s rights to foster collective intelligence which is recognized worldwide as the bedrock for a Knowledge-based Economy.

OVERHAUL EDUCATION SYSTEM. The education system, together with the ill practice of talent segregation mooted by imposed discrimination rather than meritocracy, could not help us produce competent human capital that can meet global benchmark relative to the advanced countries. We need a total overhaul of the system, reform the salary structure of the teaching and academic staff, and introduce syllabi that cater for the competitive needs of a globalised economy. We need to nurture professionally-skilled human capital that connects to the outside world, not jaguh kampung.

UPHOLDING DEMOCRACY. Malaysia as a Parliamentary Democracy, Constitutional Monarchy and constitutionally-enshrined Secular State has but eroded over the years. The separation of power that enables the Legislative, the Executive and the Judiciary -- the three pillars of government and governance -- to operate independently is being compromised. The Executive can now nominate candidates to sit on the Bench. This is the recipe for chaos that we should avoid at all costs.

EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION OF NATIONAL WEALTH. More importantly, national wealth including those generated through Petronas has not been equitably distributed to benefit the rakyat -- comprising the bumiputras and bona fide citizens -- while cronies and parties close to Umno skimmed it for their own benefits. Before the oil wells dry up, it’s time we take steps to ensure the rakyat, the actual stake-holders of this country, become the beneficiaries of our national wealth. We have been hopelessly drowned in an infrastructural-development economic model that overly relies on unskilled foreign labour force. This should stop.

ENRICH THE JOE PUBLIC. The worst financially-hit among the citizenry are the unskilled labour, average wage-earners and low ranking public servants serving in urban centres besieged by escalating cost of living. They are the direct victims of long-term rent-seekers who chipped away their earnings through highway tolls. We owe them an improved quality of life while we allow the AP Kings to take helicopter rides from golf-course to golf-course.

That’s primarily the reasons I have decided to offer my services to DAP, to help them and fellow Opposition Parties to right the wrongs of Barisan Nasional. It’s a tough struggle for all of us as we face the might of Barisan’s 3M – Money, Machinery and mainstream Media.

That’s what jolted me whenever I recall the Malay saying, “Beratnya mata memandang, berat lagi bahu memikul”.

Don’t give up my fellow Malaysians. Let’s bring in new talents and new ideas to run this country.

You may be disappointed if you fail. But you are doomed if you don’t try.

That’s how we should observe this 50th MERDEKA. Hidup Malaysia!

If you share the same feelings for Malaysia, as always, please WALK WITH US!
Yes, please walk with us. You know how to reach me ;).

Monday, July 30, 2007

Jeff Set to Join DAP!

Yes, Jeff Ooi, Malaysia's foremost blogger is indeed set to join the Democratic Action Party (DAP). I believe that it is great news for Malaysia that he has decided to take his battle to the next level. I believe that many critical thinking Malaysians will be more than happy to see Jeff in Parliament after the next elections, jousting with the many incompetent Ministers ;).

We have organised a welcoming tea party and press conference for friends and party members. So, if you are free or if you can curi ayam for an hour or two, feel free to drop by to celebrate the occasion.

At the event, Jeff Ooi is expected to make his statement on his decision to join the DAP to fight for a better Malaysia.
Date: July 31, 2007
Time: 10:30am
Venue: Food Foundry, BG-8 Happy Mansion Jalan 17/13, Petaling Jaya
Above is the Map to the venue. An RSVP will be much appreciated to estimate the amount of food which needs to be made available.

Come join us for a morning of history-making, food, fun and network. We hope to see you there!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Facing & Surviving the Internet Clampdown

Facing & Surviving the Internet Clampdown:
Our Liabilities, Rights and Responsibilities
Time: 28th July, 2007 - Saturday, 3pm
Venue: KL-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
This forum is organised by Nathaniel Tan and guess what? Unlike typical forums, tea is served ;)

With the authorities’ upsurge of threats regarding the internet, there is a growing need for the public to know its rights, responsibilities and liabilities with regards to what they write online.

Recent cases have also shown that since even the innocent are likely to be targetted, it is also important for those working towards change in Malaysia to be prepared for all eventualities.

Being fully aware of one’s legal rights and a familiarity with proper police and legal procedure could make all the difference in the case of wrongful arrest or detention.

This discussion will explore these issues with the aim of educating the public as to how to stay on the right side of the law, and what to do if the ‘law’ comes after you anyway.

Lawyer R. Sivarasa will briefly discuss laws that apply to internet writers as well as the legal procedures surrounding arrests and detention, activist S. Arutchelvan will talk about what the police can and cannot do to people under their custody, while blogger and journalist Soon Li Tsin will share some experiences regarding activism in the face of wrongful arrest. Recent arrestee Nathaniel Tan will moderate this discussion, which will be largely informal and be more of a dialogue in nature.

We will continue to see if other experts in this field will like to come by and share. An open invitation is extend to Raja Petra Kamarudin, who has been the latest target of the authorities (he mentioned he’s thinking about popping by).

Members of the public who are concerned both about knowing as well as safeguarding their rights and fundamental freedoms are encouraged to attend. Light refreshments will be served following the discussion.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

DAP's Next Big Catch?

When I joined DAP earlier this year, Jocelin Tan of The Star labelled me as "a real catch" for DAP, although, I'm pretty much just a rookie. But now, rumours are running on overdrive that DAP is reeling in the next big catch, the godfather of blogging in Malaysia himself, Jeff Ooi.

All these, thanks to a comment piece by Oon Yeoh which was just published by Today newspaper in Singapore entitled "DAP Gets New Blood".
The first major coup happened in February when Internet millionaire and Oxford graduate Tony Pua joined the DAP as economic adviser to Mr Lim. Although a political newbie, Mr Pua will be contesting in the next general election.

"People like Tony are not the kind of people who you'd normally expect to join the DAP," Mr Lim says matter-of-factly. "This is an indicator of things to come."

In the coming weeks, the party will be introducing a fresh line-up of candidates for the next general election to complement the old guard.

It's widely expected that Mr Jeff Ooi, the country's most famous social-political blogger will soon be joining the ranks of new DAP election candidates. Mr Ooi, who declined to comment, is currently a member of Gerakan, a component party of the Barisan Nasional government. If the rumours prove to be true, a high-profile defection like this would generate a strong positive buzz for the DAP.
Ah... the last time Jeff was queried on this possibility by Jocelin in November last year, "seems neither as willing nor as ready." He insisted "it’s too premature at that point."

In fact during the Ijok by-elections, there were also strong rumours of Jeff joining KeAdilan (PKR). So strong was the rumour that apparently one of the Gerakan bosses contacted him personally to seek the "truth".

This time round however, Jeff appears a little more coy about the "rumour". He even asked, shall I say, cheekily, "You think I have a cause to join them?"

Well, until the day he makes the official announcement and submits his membership application form, anything goes, I suppose. But I would absolutely welcome with both arms (and legs), his entry into politics and in particular into DAP.

One of the recent additions was a Dr Cheah Wing Yin, who does not have the online brand name of Jeff, but is a most respected professional in the medical profession. He was formerly the President of Private Medical Practitioners Association of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur and the President of the Malaysian Mental Health Association. I have found him to be one of the most prolific party volunteers in recent months.

After having joined the party for a short 7-8 eight months, I've certainly enjoyed my time taking part in as well as organising party activities. Are there shortcomings in the Party? Sure, there are. Many are as bright as daylight. But I'm certainly not going to sit around and whine about the Malaysian opposition parties and their weakness, and not instead play my part in strengthening them so as to better serve the Rakyat.

(Starting a brand new party or standing as an independent as some have suggested, are absolute non-starters, so I wouldn't even dwell into that)

In the little time I've spent with the Party, one of the most acute weakness is the clear lack in talent and human resource. The handful of headquarter staff has to perform everything from statement translations to office organisation to newsletter publications to attending meetings to running political events (e.g., forums) to maintaining a website to yes, even being the occasional drivers. And I heard it was even worse before.

Since I've joined and started working for the Party on a pro-bono full-time basis, and I would like to think that I've contributed a little bit to all of the above to make DAP a better party. And I strongly believe that if and hopefully when Jeff joins, he'll make the party even stronger.

I used to tell all my new recruits during interviews at my ex-company. "Don't let me tell you how the company works or what the culture is, besides the goals that the company sets for itself. Play your part to mold the company into one which you'd like to work in".

Well, I share the goals and ideals of the Party which I have joined - which I've roughly categorised as democracy, equality of opportunities, integrity and social justice.

The party leadership has also played their part in promoting and giving space to the young 'uns. Now, I'll play my part to make sure that the Party can better achieve its goals. And I certainly hope more talented Malaysians will do the same, for only then, will we be able to build a better Malaysia.

Monday, July 23, 2007


This is my Oriental Daily column last week, focusing on the antics of Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Noh Omar. I've blogged on the same, "Bad Apples", on Education in Malaysia. ;)












Sunday, July 22, 2007

No Debate on Islamic State?

As reported by Bernama, the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak proclaimed on 16th July that “We have never, never been secular... we are an Islamic state.”

Subsequently, as reported in Malaysiakini, the Internal Security Ministry has confirmed that they have given a directive to all mainstream media not to publish any news on the issue of Malaysia being an Islamic state.
Publications Control & Al-Quran Texts Unit senior officer Che Din Yusof said, “Yes, we have given the directive to all mainstream newspapers. Islam is a sensitive issue. They cannot publish any news on whether the country is secular or Islam.”

However, he said newpapers can still publish statements from Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his deputy Najib Abdul Razak on the country being an Islamic state.

“Reaction from political parties and the public cannot be published especially the negative reactions,” he said.
In light of the seriousness of the above two major development on a 'democratic', multi-racial and multi-cultural Malaysia, and the reluctance of other BN component parties to pick up the gauntlet, the DAP is organising a public forum to discuss the above issues:

Panel of Distinguished Speakers
  • Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader
  • Ambiga Sreenevasan, Malaysia Bar Council President
  • Malik Imtiaz, Human Rights Lawyer
  • Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, PKR Treasurer
  • Rev Dr Hermen Shastri, General Secretary, Council of Churches*
  • Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General to DAP
* To be confirmed
Venue: KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
Date: 25th July 2007 (Wednesday)
Time: 7.30 pm
If you feel strongly about the above issues, please bring friends and turn up in full force! Please forward this post to all concerned parties.

Liow Tiong Lai Defends Najib?

OK, I completely missed this earlier. On 17th July 2007, after our Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak unilaterally declared that "we are an Islamic state... we have never, never been secular", the Sun took a comment from the MCA Youth Chief, Datuk Liow Tiong Lai:
Najib's statement that Malaysia is an Islamic should not be taken literally but in a general sense that it is an Islamic country, where the majority of the population is Muslim.
Umm... so are we, or are not a secular country? And if we are indeed a secular country as defined in our Federal Constitution, what are you going to do about it? Will you heed the warning by your counterpart, UMNO Youth Chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein? Or will you continue to "fudge" the issue as per the above?

At least the MCA secretary-general, Datuk Ong Ka Chuan attempted to defend the secular nature of our Federal Consitution before the ban was imposed on the media by the Internal Security Ministry, and by UMNO Youth on MCA leaders.

MCA Youth has also just released a statement on their website that they are "disturbed with the outburst" by UMNO Youth Chief Dato’ Hishammuddin Tun Hussein. (So, what are you going to do about it?)

It also states that:
MP for Kota Melaka and MCA Central Committee member, YB Wong Nai Chee reiterated that MCA has made our stand abundantly clear and we have nothing more to add. Wong added that we don’t intend to engage in public outcry.
I have 2 problems with the statement:
  1. No where in the statement by MCA Youth was it stated in absolute clarity that Malaysia is a secular state. If such a position is so "abundantly clear", then it must be reiterated. Otherwise there is an obvious lack of sincerity.

  2. Since Mahathir pronounced Malaysia as a "Islamic country" in the 929 incident, the secular nature of the country has come under increasing threat. Wong's (and MCA's) policy of not engaging "in public outcry", as they have done since 929, has clearly failed. UMNO hegemony is now absolute.
I can only conclude that MCA is clearly losing its legitimacy firstly, as a governing party, and secondly, as a integral component party within Barisan Nasional.

For goodness sake, you will note that all official statements from MCA is only made by junior backbenchers and unelected representatives. What is the position of the MCA President, the Cabinet Ministers and Deputy Ministers, as well as the Parliamentary Secretaries? Are they all dumb? (yes, pun absolutely intended). Do they serve the rakyat or do they serve their UMNO masters?

And the President of MCA has the cheek to proclaim in the Star today for the rakyat to "Count on MCA". What an absolute disgrace.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Kerishamuddin Warns MCA

I know that most of my readers probably don't read the Berita Harian. But here's the headlines on the frontpage of the paper today (yes, for once, go get your copy) - it says: "Amaran Kepada MCA". UMNO Youth Chief, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein fired the warning.
RANAU: Pergerakan Pemuda Umno meminta pemimpin MCA berhenti daripada mengeluarkan kenyataan yang mendakwa Malaysia sebagai sebuah negara sekular kerana tindakan itu tidak membawa manfaat kepada sesiapa.


“Saya beri amaran kepada pemimpin MCA supaya berhenti membuat kenyataan sedemikian. Ingin saya tegaskan, saya bukan pemimpin naif yang akan membenarkan perkara ini berterusan. Amaran saya ialah berhenti membuat kenyataan,” katanya selepas merasmikan mesyuarat Umno Bahagian Ranau, di sini semalam.
Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein wasn't the only one showing MCA the yellow card. Even political has-been, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib has his say:
“Tindakan pihak berkenaan yang cuba mengungkit semula sejarah dan kedudukan Islam sebagai agama rasmi ini adalah tindakan tidak sopan dan melanggar persefahaman antara kaum yang dibina Perdana Menteri pertama, Almarhum Tunku Abdul Rahman.

“Pihak yang cuba mempertahankan Malaysia sebagai negara sekular dan menafikan kedudukannya sebagai negara Islam perlu melihat Perlembagaan secara menyeluruh, bukannya mengambil sesuatu fasal atau fakta secara terasing,” katanya dalam kenyataan yang dikeluarkan di sini.
MCA spent tonnes of cash in the last 3 to 4 general elections in Malaysia falsely demonising the Democratic Action Party as supporting an Islamic State, when the party has in fact been the most consistent and vociferous supporter of a secular state.

It waits to be seen if MCA will prove themselves as hypocrites and once again submit to their UMNO masters. We can only conclude that MCA is fully supportive of the UMNO Islamic State as proclaimed by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, if they were to maintain their elegant silence henceforth. The above will only prove that the almighty President of MCA, is subservient even to the UMNO Youth Chief.

I wonder which political party is it that is without principles. What a absolute disgrace.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Opposition Disrespects Women?

A few days ago, a senior member of Wanita MCA made headlines in the vernacular press that "反对党不尊重女权" i.e., the opposition does not respect women in Malaysia.



This well-respected member of parliament claimed that Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) is a party that does not respect women as Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim acts like an "Empress Dowager" (慈禧太后), he's the hidden hand behind the scenes, despite the fact that Datin Seri Wan Azizah is the "rightful" President of the party. She accused Anwar of failing to differentiate a spousal relationship from party politics, and hence it was an affront to democracy and to women.

Of course, no criticism, logical or otherwise, can be complete without dragging DAP into the picture. ;) She went on to accuse DAP of being motivated by political opportunism (赢取胜利) in our working relationship with PKR. As such, DAP also doesn't respect women. Errr...

If this isn't a clear case of the pot calling the electrical kettle black, then I really don't know what could count as one.

It wasn't too long ago when the nation was riled up over the "bocor" controversy perpetuated by 2 incorrigible Barisan Nasional MPs which insulted women all across the country. As blogged by Sdr Lim Kit Siang, when the censure motion was debated in Parliament, not a single BN MP, male or female stood up in support of womenfolk across the country.

In particular, even the right honourable MP who works in the Ministry of Family, Women and Community Affairs, was deafeningly silent, and very conspiciously absent from the Parliament hall despite being given plenty of notice from the Speaker on the motion. Only in the sanctity of the august house of Parliament can be the true test of her moral courage to represent and defend womenfolk - anything else is just plain politiking.

Which party instead took the issue nationwide, organised a gathering of influential non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as well more than 300 concerned members of the public to pass an unanimous resolution for the two "bocor" MPs to apologise and to be reprimanded, which they eventually did, although in the most insincere manner?

Well, certainly not the Right Honourable MP herself, and not the Party which she represents.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

@ Nathaniel's Vigil

Thanks to Malaysiakini who recorded the event, my little impromptu speech at the vigil for Nathaniel Tan on Saturday evening seeking his release was captured on video ;)

Before me, you can hear Nathaniel's sister, Cheryl sing, and Nik Nazmi addressing the crowd. You can also catch other Malaysiakini on the vigils as well as his release on Malaysiakini.tv.

And as he has been released from detention by the police, he has graciously agreed to speak to us about his detention tomorrow evening @ KL & Selangor Assembly Hall ;) So see you guys there!

Monday, July 16, 2007

No to a Police State in Blogosphere

Nathaniel Tan, a 26 year old dedicated blogger, a Harvard University alumnus and an aide to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has been arrested under the Section 8 of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) over allegations that he had documents linked to Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Johari Baharom’s alleged involvement in corruption.

To demonstrate our solidarity with Nathaniel who has been dealt with great injustice, to show our steadfast refusal to let the Government curb the democratisation impact of blogs and the Internet, and to voice our displeasure at the OSA, we are organising a forum with invited speakers from across the civil society with details as follows:
Venue: KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
Date: 19th July 2007 (Thursday)
Time: 7.30 pm
Admission is Free; Bring Friends
The panel of Distinguished Speakers include:
  • Nathaniel Tan, Blogger & Aide to PKR Advisor*
  • Jeff Ooi, Protem Vice-President, All Blogs Malaysia
  • Harris Ibrahim, Lawyer & Founder of The People's Parliament
  • Nurul Izzah Anwar, Special Assistant to PKR Advisor
  • Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP
  • Tony Pua, Economic Advisor to DAP Secretary-General
Chairperson: Soon Li Tsin, Journalist & Blogger

* We will be inviting Nathaniel to speak to us and relay his experiences at the Forum should he be released from remand on Tuesday, 17th July or before. We'll also be trying to leave as much time to the floor as possible, so as to enable greater interaction at the forum.

And for those who would like to find out a little more about the young man who wants to do so much for his country, check out the write up at Jeff's blog.

A quick note on the OSA:

The OSA in its current form allows for a government to administer this country covertly and in defiance of the accountability and transparency that is crucial to democratic process. As human rights lawyer, Malik Imtiaz says, "this impacts on all our lives in more ways that we can begin to understand as the government is given a means to thwart legitimate public interest by the forced suppression of material and relevant information."

See you there!! ;)


Below is my column for Oriental Daily last week. This time, I discussed on of my very favourite topics, that is the Government's focus on quantity rather than quality in education. This was also the topic of discussion when I was up on Astro last week on "Talking Issues". I've written extensively on this issue (you can read it here and here), so this article shouldn't need a separate translation ;)











Sunday, July 15, 2007

Candlelight Vigil for Nathaniel

More activities are being planned for Nathaniel as I write. Leaders of both DAP and PKR have unreservedly condemned Nathaniel's arrest.

Meanwhile, there's a candlelight vigil for Nathaniel tonight (Sunday 15th July) at 8.00pm outside the Dang Wangi Police Station (Jalan Stadium, near Merdeka Stadium). Let's show that we are not cowed by irresponsible, vindictive, unethical (I can go on...) police and government actions. See you guys there!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Free Nathaniel

The blogosphere is abuzz with Nathaniel's arrest. I really don't think I'll add to the opinions already raised, except to say that Nat is such a nice guy that doesn't deserve this treatment. The police abuse of the laws of the land is abhorrent and deplorable.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Doing My Little Part

I've been granted a short weekly column with the Chinese newspaper, Oriental Daily which will be published on every Monday. ;) This has started since they "revamped" the paper into tabloid size last week. Yes, it's a Chinese paper, and I wrote in Chinese, although whatever I wrote goes through "heavy" language editing by colleagues. I'd post here my columns a week after they have been published ;)

So, here's my debut piece, a little introductory piece on doing my part for the country ;)







两周前,欧盟驻马来西亚大使蒂里·隆梅尔(Thierry Rommel)发表如何加强马来西亚吸引外商投资的建设性意见,尤其是有必要消除保护性及歧视性的政策。我国政府领导人不但没有感激隆梅尔所发表的逆耳忠言,反而还警告他别干涉我国内政。


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Youth Carnival

Wah... looks like there's plenty of activities for all of you out there this weekend. Here's a "Just-For-You" Youth Carnival which plans to introduce young Malaysians to all sorts of socio-political activities.
Time: 10am-2pm,
Date: 15 July 2007 (Sunday)
Veneu: KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (Monorail: Maharajalela)
Join us and bring friends! ;)

Activities include:
  • Voters' Registration§
  • Theme Exhibition Booth by youth wing of different political parties
  • Youth Charter Declaration
  • Meet youth leaders & young celebrities
  • Hip-Hop Dance, Sketch and MORE!
and (wow!) FREE LUNCH!!!

For more info:
Youth For Change (Y4C)动力青年
Tel/Fax :603-77831164
Email: y4c2006(at)gmail.com
Website : y4c.seacem.com

Parliamentary Caucus Hearing on Crime

Let's Fight Rising Crime Rate!

Public Hearing on Crime in Klang Valley
by Parliamentary Human Rights Caucus
Date: July 11, 2007 (Wednesday)
Time: 8.00pm – 10.30pm
Venue: Dewan Sivik, Majlis Perbandaran Petaling Jaya (MBPJ)
"We want the public to take this opportunity to voice their suggestions and opinions." Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, Minister in Prime Minister's Department

Caucus MPs present will include:
  • YB Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, Caucus Chairman,
  • YB Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader,
  • YB Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, MP for Permatang Pauh.
All are welcome to express your views, and make written submissions. Admission is free.

The Hall can occupy 1,000 people, hence for those who can make it, please do so to make a point on the seriousness of the issue of crime in our cities.

Workshop on Election Reporting

For those keen on covering events in the upcoming elections to be held easily within the next few months, BERSIH is organising a workshop for you, free of charge. ;)

Workshop on Election Reporting for Journalists and Bloggers
Date: 15 July 2007
Venue: Crystal Crown, Petaling Jaya


0900 - 0930 am Registration
0930 - 0945 am Opening Remark
0945 - 1000 am Section I: Newsworthiness in Election Reporting: What in store if the PM dissolves the Parliament today?

Presenter: Mr. Liew Chin Tong (REFSA/Bersih secretariat)

1000 - 1100 pm Section II - Trend in Electoral Reporting: Past Record and Future Prospect

Presenter: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Anuar K. Mustafa (USM)

1100 - 1115 am Tea break

1115 am - 100 pm Section III: Meaning in Electoral Reporting: Why we may have Elections without Democracy

Presenter: Mr. Wong Chin Huat (IKMAS, UKM / WAMI)

100 - 200 pm Lunch
200 - 430pm Workshop 1-6: What and How to inform the citizenry about/in the event of ......
  • Political Debates and Mudslinging - real v pseudo issues, negative campaigning
  • Civil Society and Citizen in Elections
  • Polling Irregularities - phantom voters, exclusion/transfer of voters, missing ballots
  • Campaigning Irregularities - intimidation, vote-buying (with private money)
  • Administrative Neutrality - vote-buying (with state funds and policies), caretaker government
  • Electoral System - gerrymandering, mal-apportionment and disproportionality
Coordinator: Faisal Mustaffa (BERSIH secretariat)

430 - 500 pm Wrap-up session

Coordinator: Ms Gayathry V. (CIJ)

500 pm Tea break

Further Details:

Organizer: Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH)


(a) To enhance professionalism, depth and reflectivity in election reporting amongst professional and amateurish journalists;
(b) To promote free and fair elections in the citizenry via quality election reporting

Participation: by invitation, free of charge
Target Participants: Journalists, Bloggers, Media/Journalism Students
Any enquiries, please contact 019-2232002

Friday, July 06, 2007

Comment Moderation

It is with great regret that I have decided to switch on comment moderation with immediate effect. If you have followed my blogs, I have allowed plenty of alternative views as well as criticism (directed at me or my views) in the comments.

However, for the past 2 weeks, a few incorrigible brats (under whose payroll, I have to wonder) have decided to vandalise this site to incite unconstructive name calling, racist remarks and other better-left-unmentioned responses. I have been patiently and diligently deleting these comments but it becomes difficult to maintain when I'm running all over the place.

We know that these offenders are in the minority, and hopefully after a short while, I will be able to return the blog to a unmoderated status.

In the mean time, I can only ask for our regular and loyal readers to be patient as your comments will not appear immediately on this blog. I'll try to access as frequently as possible to "process" these comments. And certainly, I'll apologise for any inconvenience caused. But don't worry, constructive criticisms, personal or otherwise, continues to be welcomed. ;)


Just a quick plug for a busy weekend ahead (Penang tomorrow evening), I'll be on Astro AEC Channel "Talking Issues" (就事论事) programme to discuss the quality of university graduates today. An English write up of this post will be made available at my Education in Malaysia blog later ;)
议题: 现在的大学生素质有问题吗?
时间: 11.00pm
佳宾: 翁诗杰、潘俭伟、罗志昌
频道: Astro亚洲娱乐台(19)



















Thursday, July 05, 2007

10 Years After Asian Financial Crisis: A Reflection

OK, once again, I know this is a bit late, but better late than never I suppose ;)

I'll be appearing in a largely Mandarin forum (my slides will have English text) tonight to discuss the above topic. My counterpart is Dr Ho Kee Peng, an entertaining and well-known analyst in political and economic issues in the forum circuit.
Date: July 5th, 2007
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
This forum is organised by Oriental Daily.

An excerpt on the Asian Financial Crisis taken form Wikipedia:

Until 1997, Asia attracted almost half of total capital inflow to developing countries. The economies of Southeast Asia in particular maintained high interest rates attractive to foreign investors looking for a high rate of return. As a result the region's economies received a large inflow of hot money and experienced a dramatic run-up in asset prices. At the same time, the regional economies of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, and South Korea experienced high growth rates, 8-12% GDP, in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This achievement was broadly acclaimed by economic institutions including the IMF and World Bank, and was known as part of the Asian economic miracle.

Whatever the disputed causes, the Asian crisis started in mid-1997 and affected currencies, stock markets, and other asset prices of several Southeast Asian economies. Triggered by events in Latin America, particularly after the Mexican peso crisis of 1994, Western investors lost confidence in securities in East Asia and began to pull money out, creating a domino effect.

See you there! ;)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Clueless Politicians

Other than the many twists and turns in the Altantuya Murder Mystery, the other subject which has been hitting the headlines in the past week or so, has been the controversy over the issue of credit check services provided by CTOS Sdn Bhd. Much has been reported in the press, and most of it was negative.

Even today, the Prime Minister as well as the Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi chipped in unintelligently by claiming that "when CTOS made conclusions based on incomplete and outdated information the people concerned would be victimised. I dare make the claim here that Pak Lah has never ever seen the system himself, or he would have realised immmediately that the system does not blacklist individuals or companies.

Before I proceed, let me clarify that:
  • I've had a glimpse the CTOS service
  • I have no idea if my name will produce a result in CTOS
  • I have no shares in CTOS
  • I have no personal dealings with CTOS or its management
My beef on this issue is simply that economically illiterate Ministers are placing the efficiency and credibility of Malaysia's financial institutions at risk.

These statements were made following various allegations made by the Deputy Minister in Prime Minister's Department, Datuk M. Kayveas against the company. (The CEO of CTOS has issued an open letter published in Malaysiakini to the esteemed Minister, and intends to file a defamation suit against the latter.)

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak asked that CTOS "should not create problems or prevent borrowers from getting loans from financial institutions". Most shockingly, Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussien has called on Banks "to stop using the services provided by CTOS".

Credit Information Enables Efficient and Sound Banking System

What CTOS provides is a service which is in demand by financial institutions to evaluate the credit-worthiness of their borrowers. Such information enables lending to be processed efficiently and at a lower risks for banks. No financial institution in the country will be willing to provide loans if such information is lacking or unavailable.

What CTOS does is to collate information which are publicly available and gazetted instantly to subscribers will then make their own assessments with regards to the credit-worthiness of the borrowers. As a result our financial and banking system has become more efficient as loans can be processed in greater confidence within a faster processing period. Banks offering loan approvals within 24-hours cannot do it today without such information.

On the other hand, without the CTOS service, Banks will still have to assess the credit-worthiness of the potential borrowers by reviewing bankruptcy gazettes, public notices in newspapers, company registration information in Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM), a tedious and time-consuming process. Such a process is inefficient, unwieldy and prone to errors.

Hence, when the Deputy Finance Minister called on Banks to stop using the CTOS service, he is in effect asking our Banks to increase take on unnecessary risk, which will only result in higher non-performing loans (NPLs). Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussien is also effectively asking them to be less efficient and as a result, less competitive compared to foreign financial institutions.

The General Public Are Winners with a service like CTOS

While parties with a poor credit history are clearly unhappy with the availability of services such as CTOS, it must be made known that the overwhelming majority of Malaysians benefit tremendously from such a system.

A negative search (i.e., no result) in CTOS for example, will often mean that a person's track record is clean. A search on 94% of all Malaysians will result in a negative search. Hence because of the availability of a credit information service like CTOS, these 94% of Malaysians will have their loans or business requirements processed at a faster, more efficient and effective manner. In fact, for many, it may mean higher facilities as well as lower interest rates.

Hence, what our Ministers are unfortunately trying to do is to in effect, to protect Malaysians with potentially weaker credit history while sacrificing the interest of the majority of Malaysians with excellent credit standing.

The Key is Accurate Information

Action should only be taken against CTOS should the information found within the system contain errors, which will then unfairly jeopardise the interest of the victim. CTOS should hence make all necessary effort to ensure that the data within the system is accurate.

In the event whereby CTOS faces difficulty in maintaining an updated record, all efforts must be made to obtain these relevant information. The Government should at the same time ensure that information such as bankrupts who have been discharged, are made available publicly on a timely basis.

Stop Making Unfounded Allegations

The Ministers should therefore stop making unfounded and uneducated allegations against companies such as CTOS, for they are critical in ensuring that our business and financial system and operates in a substantially more efficient and effective manner. They should instead seek direct clarification with CTOS to better understand their services and what necessary improvements should be made.

The Edge financial weekly has asked in its column "Frankly Speaking" this week, "Why shoot the messenger"?
...aren't the critics barking up the wrong tree? They are merely shooting the messenger. The culprits are actually the financial institutions that depend on credit bureaus for information on the credit-worthiness of their clients.

...ultimately, the decision to lend or not to lend to an individual lies with the banks and other financial institutions. There is no obligation on thepart of the banks to make a decision based on what has been provided by credit bureaus.
Even Transparency International has issued a statement with regards to "grave threats to transparency".
By seeking to suppress information, the authorities are “clearly violating freedom of access to information for legitimate business purposes and to be informed on public policy issues,” said TI-M president Ramon V Navaratnam in a statement today.

This freedom is not only essential for the public to make responsible and informed decisions based on fair access to information, but also for an open and transparent democracy to function meaningfully, he explained.

Officials and legislators should also cease their attacks on CTOS and instead raise “concerns about the way credit and financial information is collated and disseminated” with the management, he said.

“The fact that some legislators’ names are listed as defaulters surely does not justify any call to ban the service. We have to be increasingly concerned with public and national interest rather than the protection of individuals,” he added.
It is disappointing that in the midst of attempting to build world-class banks in an increasingly globalised and competitive environment, our clueless Ministers are seeking to eliminate one of the most critical components - "information", from being accessed by our financial institutions.

Instead of taking such a retrogressive step, they should encourage greater competition in this field so as the system will become even more efficient and reliable, benefiting not only our banking industry, but also all Malaysians.

Monday, July 02, 2007

"Lets Revitalise Penang Economy"

The economy of Penang used to be the most robust and competitive in Malaysia with giants like Intel anchoring the high-technology manufacturing industry. However, today, it lies a distant 3rd in the country, after Selangor and Johor. The Pearl of the Orient has clearly lost its sparkle.

How can DAP help revitalise Penang, and make the Pearl of the Orient shine, once again?

THEME: "Lets Revitalise Penang Economy"
"Revitalise Penang" Dialogue Series (I)

  • Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General
  • YB Chow Kon Yeow, MP for Tanjong
  • Tony Pua, Economic Advisor to DAP Sec-Gen
Language: Mandarin / English
Date: 6.7.2007 (Friday)
Time: 8.00 p.m. (Please be punctual)
Venue: Chew Si Kee San Tong Hall
(33, Lebuh Kimberley, Georgetown )
Contact:04-2288482 / 2277068

"风云再起 "系列讲座(1 )

主题:" 如何抢救槟州经济?"


  • 林冠英 (民主行动党秘书长 )
  • 潘俭伟 (民主行动党秘书长经济顾问 ;英国牛津大学 哲学、政治与经济 系毕业 )
  • 曹观友 (丹绒区国会议员 ;民主行动党槟州主席 )
媒介语:华语 / 英语
日期: 2007年7 月6日(星期五)
时间:晚上 8时(请准时出席)
联络:04-2288482 / 2277068