Friday, April 29, 2011

Limp reforms fuelling brain drain

Pakatan: Limp reforms fuelling brain drain
By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal April 29, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 — The government’s failure to see through announced reforms were partly to blame for the country’s chronic brain-drain problem, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers claimed today

Opposition leaders today said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s inability to deliver on promises of equality and a “needs-based” economic model, coupled with his “conceding” to ultra-Malay voices within his own party will only result in Malaysia being mired in the middle-income trap.

“Najib is not addressing the critical issues affecting talent in leaving the country... His message of inclusiveness is lost in translation as existing policies are discriminatory against the non-Malays in the country. This has been verified by the proportion leaving the country,” DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua said today.

According to a World Bank report yesterday, more than one million Malaysians currently live abroad. The report stated that policies favouring the majority Malays were contributing to the country’s brain-drain while holding back its economy and limiting foreign investment.

Today, Pua said Najib’s “U-turn” over his heavily-publicised New Economic Model (NEM) has left little room in the country’s competition for talent.

“The fact is these policies do not encourage competition and a poor economy will deter prospective talents from staying. He has failed in an attempt from moving from a race-based culture to a needs-based,” Pua told The Malaysian Insider.

In a Bloomberg news service report, World Bank senior economist Philip Schellekens was also quoted as saying that foreign investment could be five times the current levels if the country had Singapore’s talent base.

“Migration is very much an ethnic phenomenon in Malaysia, mostly Chinese but also Indian,” Schellekens told Bloomberg in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

Governance issues and lack of meritocracy are “fundamental constraints” to Malaysia’s expansion because “competition is what drives innovation,” he said.

For the full story, read it here.

Tony Pua to strike out Syabas suit

PETALING JAYA: Petaling Jaya Utara member of parliament Tony Pua has moved to strike out the defamation suit filed against him by Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas).

In a Bursa Malaysia filing yesterday, Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd said solicitors of its unit Syabas were served with a striking-out application by Tony Pua on April 26.

It also added that at a hearing yesterday, the Kuala Lumpur High Court had directed both parties to resolve all affidavits in reply by the next case management scheduled on May 19. The court had also fixed the defendant’s striking out application to be heard on May 30.

From The Star

Will Najib Stop 50sen Payment for 1Malaysia Email?

The “1Malaysia Email” Entry-Point Project (EPP) has only become more intriguing with contradictory clarifications, exposing the continued malaise in the current administration system

The “1Malaysia email project” circus is continuing as Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak continues to maintain an elegant silence over the project despite the obvious complicity of various agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department and the Finance Ministry under his charge.

Despite Najib’s attempt to wash his hands off the project by claiming that the RM50 million project will not be funded with Government money, Pemandu officials as well as the project owner, Tricube Bhd’s CEO himself have admitted that Government agencies will be required to pay 50 sen per email sent to registered users. This will result in millions being spent by each government agency should they be sending just 1 email to the forecasted 15 million users.

What’s more, despite Najib’s denial that the project will be funded by the Government, Tricubes has disclosed that they have received seed capital of RM5.5 million for the project from Malaysia Venture Capital (MAVCAP), a fund wholly owned by the Ministry of Finance.

To add further to the ludicrous confusion, MAVCAP immediately made an indirect denial that the investment was meant for the 1Malaysia email project, but instead is for another subsidiary of Tricubes, Tam Tam Sdn Bhd which is involved in mobile salesforce automation products.

In a Twitter exchange with Khairy Jamaluddin, Umno Youth Chief who had earlier called the Pemandu officials “little Napoleons” for defying the Prime Minister’s clarification that the Government isn’t footing a single sen for the project, he insisted the officials are still to be blamed because they didn’t brief the Prime Minister properly - “obv they are to blame b/c didn’t brief PM properly”. (Apr 27 1.32pm)

Regardless of whether Khairy’s comment was made in jest or in all seriousness, now that we have established the fact that Government agencies will be unreasonably required to pay 50 sen for every email sent to a registered 1Malaysia email user, will Najib who is both the Prime Minister and Finance Minister issue or initiate the directive to stop all Government agencies from committing to such exhorbitant fees?

Instead, Najib must direct all government agencies interested in providing electronic communications for bills and statements, should require citizens to provide their own emails, whether Gmail, Yahoo!Mail, Hotmail or other email providers for such communication. By doing so, government agencies will be able to communicate with ordinary Malaysians by sending unlimited email at absolutely no cost! If banks and credit card companies can do it today, there’s absolutely no reason why Government agencies are unable to do the same.

The above circus over a “simple” RM50 1Malaysia email project, instead of showcasing a reformed Government machinery under the various initiatives like the GTP, ETP, EPP etc, has instead exposed the fact that all is not well within the Najib’s administration. The various government departments, whether due to sheer incompetence or vested interest, is the biggest hindrance to a successful implementation of Government “transformation” programmes. And if Najib continues to take a hands-off approach like he’s doing for the “1Malaysia email project”, then all the King’s horses and all the King’s men will not be able to will not be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

EC Showing Biased Colours

EC is demonstrating utter contempt for free and fair elections by parroting lies by Barisan Nasional leaders to denigrate the DAP, without an iota of evidence.

In the Utusan Malaysia column by Zulkifli Jalil “Kekang sentiment cauvinis” today, he quoted Deputy Commissioner of Election Commission (EC), Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar as having accused DAP of running a racist campaign in the recently concluded Sarawak elections.

"TIDAK salah saya katakan terdapat kempen-kempen berunsur perkauman di seluruh bandar besar di Sarawak khususnya yang dimainkan oleh DAP."

He had argued that most of DAP’s banners in Chinese contained racial elements which were incendiary in nature, during his inspection round on the 14 April and were in breach of the Section 4 of the Election Offences Act. However, because there were “too many” of such posters and banners, the SPR and police were unable to take any action.

He even quoted the Minister of Information, Communication and Culture, Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim who accused that DAP Pending candidate, Violet Yong had argued that “we have had enough of a Melanau being the Chief Minister” (“dah cukup masa orang Melanau jadi CM”) in a “closed door ceramah”.

The EC Deputy Commissioner even argued that there were too many “closed door ceramahs” conducted during the election!

The above accusations unfortunately are all desperate lies by the Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar who has not only failed to ensure free and fair elections in Sarawak but are now trying to justify to its political masters why EC failed to curb the people’s will to vote for Pakatan Rakyat in the urban centres.

I challenge the EC to come up with prove that the DAP has put up banners which were racial in nature which incites racial hatred and anger. Throughout the entire campaign, we have ensure that practically all our campaign materials contains at least 2 languages, whether in Bahasa Malaysia, English, Chinese or Iban. Our campaign theme has been thoroughly focused on fighting corruption, cronyism and abuse of power and never on a particular race.

Even if the EC is indeed shorthanded to the extent that they were unable to “take down” all the so-called “racist” banners by DAP, I am certain that its officials have ready cameras to keep proof and maintain records of such serious transgressions. Datuk Wan Ahmad should show such evidence instead of spreading malicious lies.

In fact, if there was any party which was inciting racial sentiments during the election, it was from Barisan Nasional, and SUPP in particular. Nearly all SUPP banners were only in the Chinese language, and they threatened the Chinese community that if the latter failed to support SUPP, the Government will ignore their needs in the future. Why didn’t EC reprimand or take action against the SUPP?

In addition, the DAP has never held any “closed door” ceramahs in Sarawak. All our events whether in public places or function rooms, were always open to public, including to the media and special branch officers, who had diligently video-recorded every word uttered by our leaders. Both Datuk Wan Ahmad and Datuk Seri Rais Yatim should publicly apologise for making the baseless accusation that our candidate Violet Yong has uttered “dah cukup masa orang Melanau jadi CM”, failing which our legal bureau will contemplate further actions against them.

Barisan Nasional, having lost the confidence of the public, particularly in the urban centres are now using government agencies such as the Election Commission to incite racial hatred against the DAP in order to protect their own selfish political interest. Datuk Wan Ahmad should resign for not only failing to ensure a level playing field for elections in Sarawak, but also now becoming the cat’s paw for BN to defame and denigrate Pakatan Rakyat component parties.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rent-Seeking a-la-NEM?

Najib and Pemandu must come clean with the “1Malaysia Email Project” details by revealing all terms and conditions of the concession awarded to Tricubes Berhad, and stop digging a deeper hole for themselves with flip-flopping answers

It is almost comical the way our Prime Minister, Datuk Najib Abdul Razak and Pemandu officials are heaping layers of misleading and contradictory statements in an attempt to cover up the “1Malaysia email project” fiasco.

First, Pemandu had to take the trouble to edit the description of the project from a “government initiative” to a “private sector initiative”, despite the fact that Tricubes Bhd has announced on Bursa Malaysia that it was awarded the email project by the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (Mampu).

Then, Datuk Seri Najib Razak had to assure Malaysians via Twitter that the much-criticised project would not be funded by the government and nor made compulsory.

However, in a radio interview with BFM yesterday, business services NKEA communications content and infrastructure director Dr Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek disclosed that government agencies will pay Tricubes Bhd to use the company’s 1Malaysia e-mail database.

Fadhlullah Suhaimi said he expected agencies to pay Tricubes about 50 sen per e-mail, “cheaper than the RM1.00 printing, stationery, postage and dispatch cost of sending a regular letter.”

This disclosure comes as a complete shock to Malaysians because the Prime Minister has assured us that the Government will not be paying a sen for the project! And yet, it is now obvious that the “1Malaysia email project” is a scheme designed to fleece tax-payers monies with a service that is completely unnecessary.

The fact of the matter is the creation of an "official email" account is absolutely unnecessary in "official" dealings with the Government. At this point of time, even Maybank and Citibank are able to send my monthly bank and credit card account statements to my Yahoo or Gmail accounts. I also have no problems receiving my monthly mobile phone bills from Digi Telecommunications. The signing up of a "1Malaysia" account is not only a hassle, it is clearly a barrier created specifically for certain parties to profit.

While Dr Fadhlullah tried hard to justify the project by claiming that Government agencies will only pay 50 sen for each email sent via the 1Malaysia email account as opposed to RM1 for cost of printing and postage, he failed to explain why 50 sen should even be paid when banks and telecommunication companies pay absolutely nothing to send us our bills and statements today without having to set up "special" email accounts!

Clearly the design and nature of the "1Malaysia email project" is to create an artificial need for a concession to provide rent-seeking opportunities for companies which may find it difficult to provide real value-added services in a competitive environment.

Given that the Prime Minister and Pemandu officials have been tripping over each other to provide flip-flopping explanations which repeatedly contradict each other, Pemandu must to the right thing and disclose in full the contract awarded to Tricubes Berhad so that the public can know the full truth.

The failure of Pemandu to do so will only make a mockery of its own Government Transformation Programme (GTP) which calls for the elimination of rent-seeking while increasing transparency and accountability. Pemandu should protect its reputation by calling a spade a spade, and call for the withdrawal of the project which has without a doubt, become an international embarrassment for the Najib administration.

Friday, April 22, 2011

MCA should dissolve itself

DAP dares MCA to dissolve and call for Najib’s resignation
By Clara Chooi April 21, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 — The DAP challenged MCA leaders today to dissolve their party or call on the prime minister to resign should he lose Chinese community support in the coming general election.
DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang charged that the MCA was being hypocritical in calling for Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud’s resignation due to his failure to deliver the Chinese vote last week, pointing out that the MCA itself had performed no better in Election 2008.

In the Sarawak state polls last Saturday, Barisan Nasional (BN) lost 16 seats to the opposition, most of them Chinese-majority urban seats.

In Election 2008, MCA suffered its worst ever electoral defeat when it saw its parliamentary representation cut by more than half from 31 to just 15 seats.

“Now they are asking Taib to resign on grounds that he lost the Chinese vote. Will they apply the same standard to PM (Datuk Seri) Najib (Razak)?

“And why is MCA still in the Cabinet? Why was MCA’s president (Datuk Seri Dr) Chua Soi Lek so keen on securing his son (Chua Tee Yong) a deputy minister’s post?” Lim asked.

DAP publicity chief Tony Pua, who led the party’s campaign in Sarawak, agreed, saying that the MCA should “dissolve” itself for having failed in its purpose of representing the Chinese community.

“If you are talking about support based on race, the MCA has failed to represent the Chinese. So their organisation is completely irrelevant. They should dissolve themselves,” he said.

Lim and Pua were responding to a statement by MCA vice-president Gan Ping Sieu yesterday calling for Taib’s resignation due to the outcome of Saturday’s polls.

The DAP leaders also berated MCA’s Loh Seng Kok for “insulting the intelligence of Sarawak voters” when he claimed the Chinese community had been duped into voting for the opposition for racial reasons.

“They are insulting their intelligence because Sarawak voters, all those who supported DAP, were voting for the Pakatan Rakyat (PR). They were voting for new politics which surpasses racial boundaries,” said Lim.

Pua said it was the SUPP which had played the race card.
He pointed out that the outcome of the Sarawak polls had not only shown an increase in Chinese community support towards the DAP but an improvement in support from all communities towards PR as a pact.
This, he said, was mirrored in how the opposition had managed to increase its popular vote from 37 per cent in 2006 to 45.5 per cent or 300, 288 votes while BN managed to secure 54.5 per cent or 372, 379 votes.

“MCA and Gerakan leaders are feeling so aggrieved that they were treated with utter contempt in Sarawak that they are making these nonsensical statements.

“It is their way to vent their anger. They should know their days are numbered unless they change and rise above racial politics,” said Lim.

Pua also pointed out that it was the MCA’s parallel, the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), that had played the race card in the polls in order to convince people to reject the opposition.

In its campaign, the SUPP had warned Sarawakians that they would lose Chinese representation in the state Cabinet if they voted for the DAP.

On April 16, however, the DAP scored an electoral upset by winning 12 of the 15 seats it contested, most of them Chinese-majority urban seats.

The SUPP was nearly wiped out when the party, which claims to represent the Chinese, won in just six of the 19 seats it contested, only two of which were Chinese majority while the rest were Dayak seats.

“I want to challenge MCA to point out when and where in our entire campaign in Sarawak were we racist? Go back to school and learn what racism is.

“Fighting corruption, abuse of power and nepotism is not racism. These issues cut across the races and if MCA thinks they are racist, they should evaluate their own party constitution which prohibits other races from taking part in their organisation,” said Pua.

Lim agreed, pointing out that the MCA and Gerakan were largely to blame for the SUPP’s fall in Sarawak as leaders for both the peninsula-based BN partners had joined in the election campaign.

“The real reason why SUPP did so badly was because of the assistance rendered by MCA and Gerakan leaders who have only served to highlight the need for the country to rise above race and go for new politics. Since peninsula voters have rejected Gerakan and MCA, the Sarawak voters are doing the same.

“Nobody cared about them in Sarawak. Not just that, they were treated like garbage and with utter contempt,” he said.

Malaysia's brain drain

Malaysia at economic crossroads as it fights the great brain drain Kuala Lumpur government announces new strategy to try and retain its brightest sons and daughters from emigrating

Dustin Roasa in Kuala Lumpur, Thursday 21 April 2011 18.47 BST

Sheng Cai Lim is a skilled and experienced IT professional, an asset to a country that aspires to grow into a fully developed nation by the end of the decade. There's only one problem. Lim, 29, isn't sure he wants to stay in Malaysia.

Lim says it's 50/50 that he'll leave. "I'll likely go to Singapore for a few years, and then after that maybe Canada or New Zealand," he said. He's on a six-month sabbatical from work and recently registered with head hunters who place candidates abroad. "My friends overseas wonder why I'm still in Malaysia. They say there are better opportunities abroad," he said.

If Lim does make the move, he'll join the 1.5m Malaysians, or 5.3% of the population, who live and work outside of the country, according to the World Bank. By moving to countries such as Singapore, Australia and the UK, these migrants are creating a considerable brain drain that threatens the country's economic progress.

"Brain drain is hurting the country's drive to move up the value chain," said Dr Ooi Kee Beng, senior fellow at the Institute of South-east Asian Studies in Singapore. "The fact that Malaysians fill many of the top and middle management posts in the region, from Shanghai to Singapore, tells us that the country is bleeding talent."

The problem has been getting worse in recent years. More than 300,000 Malaysians left the country between March 2008 and August 2009, compared to nearly 140,000 in 2007, the deputy foreign affairs minister, Tuan A Kohilan Pillay told parliament. Many work in key sectors such as finance, technology and engineering.

Two factors are driving the exodus, said Tony Pua, MP and member of the opposition committee on the ministry of higher education. "First, there's simple economics. You can make more money overseas," he said.

The other cause is the country's race-based affirmative action policies, Pua said, which favour ethnic-majority bumiputra, or sons of the soil, over minority Chinese and Indians, who make up 24% and 7% of the population, respectively.

"The two problems exacerbate each other. The economy has not been growing, and there's an increasing demand for a bigger piece of the pie among bumiputra. As a result, the government is more prone to implement policies that favour them, and minorities feel excluded. It's a vicious cycle," Pua said.

Malaysian law provides bumiputra benefits such as rebates on property prices, quotas for university enrolment and civil-service jobs, and preferential treatment for government contracts, among other advantages. The laws, which were enacted in 1971 in an attempt to redistribute wealth in the wake of race riots in 1969, distinguish Malaysia from other Asian countries with brain-drain problems, such as the Philippines.

In interviews with Malaysians living in Kuala Lumpur and overseas, frustration with these laws and worries about rising racial tension and Islamic conservatism have led many to reconsider their futures in their country of birth.

"Malaysia is a very controlled and fanatic country," said Janath Anantha Vass, 29, an ethnic Indian accountant in Kuala Lumpur who plans to move to Australia. "Melbourne suits my lifestyle the best, and I feel that's the place for me."

The Malaysian government is attempting to respond to the problem with an array of programmes, including 1Malaysia, a campaign designed to ease racial tensions. In January, Prime Minister Najib Razak launched the Talent Corporation, which seeks to lure back skilled Malaysians. But many are sceptical that these programmes will address the systemic problems driving brain drain.

"I'm not sure how effective Talent Corporation will be. Past programmes like this have not worked, and I'm not sure how this one is different," said Evelyn Wong, an ethnic Chinese economics student at Scripps College in California, who blogs about brain drain.

But Dr Kim Leng Yeah, an economist at Ram Holdings in Kuala Lumpur, said Talent Corporation did at least demonstrate the government's willingness to address the issue. "There has been a lot of public scepticism," he said. "But it is a proactive move." Representatives at Talent Corporation declined to comment.

As Lim, who is ethnic Chinese, considers his future, he has spent time thinking about his place in multicultural Malaysia. "I do realise that I am a minority in this country," he said. "My family is encouraging me to leave. They say, 'Malaysia doesn't want us anymore, so why stay?'"

And while he hasn't given up on eventually returning, he would have to see significant changes before doing so. "It doesn't feel like the country is mature enough to tackle its problems right now. When we are ready to face our problems, I'll be ready to come back," he said.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

ETP: RM9.6b plucked from thin air?

Is the Najib administration so desperate to showcase the "success" of the ETP that it has now taken to announcing multi-billion ringgit worth of projects which are nothing more than hot air as at this point of time?

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak celebrated his 5th "update" by announcing a total of RM11.16 billion worth of projects and claiming that the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) is right on track.

The Government must be congratulated if it is really able to attract such an amount of projects within a short period of time, especially if it is due to the ETP.

However, upon closer scrutiny of the projects announced, it becomes clear that the numbers quoted provided a skewed and misleading picture of ETP "developments".

Firstly, of the 12 “entry-point projects” (EPPs) in this update, 5 have been previously announced making them a repetition of projects which have already been disclosed.

Secondly, of the RM11.2 billion worth of projects announced, the Karambunai Integrated Resort City project alone constituted RM9.6 billion or a whopping 86% of all the value of all the projects added together!

Thirdly and perhaps most importantly, the value for the Karambunai project appears to be plucked out from thin air for it appears as if nothing has yet been finalised which will justify any announcement to the public!

The Karambunai resort project is led by gaming tycoon Tan Sri Chen Lip Keong’s group of companies on a 1,100ha piece of land, owned by Karambunai Corp Bhd and Petaling Tin Berhad. Tan Sri Chen has substantial shareholdings in both these companies, and is the president of both.

As if on cue after the Prime Minister made his ETP announcement, Petaling Tin Bhd announced on Bursa Malaysia yesterday that it “has not signed any agreement with any parties pertaining to the resort project and there are no corporate developments that warrant future disclosures to the stock exchange at this juncture.”

In other words, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s boast of the RM11.16 billion EPP projects, including the RM9.6 billion Karambunai Integrated Resort Project is nothing more than a “trial balloon” inflated with hot air!

In fact, even some of the smaller EPPs failed the scrutiny test, such as the RM50 million “1Malaysia email project”, where it now appears that the company which has been awarded the project, Tricubes Bhd, which isn’t only loss making as at this point of time, but is at a risk of being delisted from the ACE market after being issued a GN3 status by Bursa Malaysia.

The project awarded by the Government aims to provide an email account to all Malaysians above the age of 18 is supposed to be privately financed. However, the company which is facing serious financial difficulty has not disclosed how it will even be able to finance the project on its own.

It is disappointing that the Prime Minister, in an attempt to make his administration and the ETP look good to the man-on-the-street, has chosen to boast of projects with dubious economic value, like the “1Malaysia email project” as well as incorporating huge projects with their multi-billion ringgit valuations being plucked out from thin air.

Malaysians want to see real success and real tangible benefits from government policies and projects, and not just listen empty pronouncements made to make the Barisan Nasional government look good.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Kuching Finale!

Our Pakatan Rakyat Kuching Candidates

Electric rock concert atmosphere @ Pakatan Rakyat Kuching Grand Finale
(Picture by Malaysiakini)

Sceaming fans in red @ Pakatan Rakyat Kuching Grand Finale
(Picture by

30,000 people throng to Pakatan Rakyat Kuching Grand Finale 

(Picture by MerdekaReview)

People stayed on despite a momentary shower
(Picture by Ooi Leng Hang)