Monday, December 22, 2008

Sarawak: The Next Beach Head

Sarawak started the tsunami wave in 2006 by electing 8 opposition state assemblymen and women, a vast increase from the original 1 sole representative. By 2010/2011, Malaysia will once again focus its attention on Sarawak as it'll once again hold its state elections. DAP will certainly put its best foot forward to carry on the wave of change by winning more seats than the 6 we currently have.

DAP Sarawak is also actively setting up branches with higher bumiputera membership, in part to extend our reach into the rural areas of Sarawak. The following is a recent blog post by our DAP Sarawak state chairman and state assemblyman for Bukit Assek, Sdr Wong Ho Leng on its efforts.

In November 2008, DAP approved the formation of two (2) predominantly Iban branches at Sibu Jaya and Sungai Merah, both in Sibu (Another predominantly Iban branch approved was Bintangor Scheme B).

This morning, members from these 2 branches gathered at the Sibu DAP office to hold their first Annual General Meeting (AGM) and elect the first office bearers.

The small DAP premises was filled to the full by these members. Every chair was occupied. Some members even had to stand throughout the meeting.

More branches will be formed in rural areas in the next few months. The formation of these branches will bear testimony that we are not content to work in the Chinese areas alone and shout for the rural constituencies from outside. We are determined to go rural, and to see improvement in the lives of all races, in particular, the economically besieged and poor Dayaks. These rural areas should have DAP Iban leaders serve them. They should go for change.

Several Iban leaders spoke at the meeting before the election of office bearers. They had one common theme in their speeches – the BN Government has neglected them despite promising the skies. They felt that their leaders have always resorted to threats and intimidation, dissuading them to join Opposition parties. They urged their members not to fear, because their community leaders are paid by the BN to speak for the BN Government. Often, their plights have not been relayed to the Government. Their voices were not heard. Needless to day, their speech were laced with the desire to see change.

Several SUPP and Dayak leaders used to tell me that the political sky-change in Sarawak will take place if the Ibans wake from their bondage to their leaders. These people are poor, and that is an asset to the BN. They hold them by the thread of poverty. They would promise them the sky but will not deliver.

I can see the desire to see change in the mindset of the Ibans. It looks like the end of BN Government in Sarawak is at hand.

In my speech, I said that the Ibans comprise 30% of the population in Sarawak. Though the biggest race, they are the poorest in Sarawak. They face problems not only in their land but also with earning a living in Sarawak. Many of the Iban youths have to leave Sarawak to work in the factories in Johore, Selangor and Penang. It is said that there are 40,000 Ibans working in Johore alone. They are also employed in the factories in Singapore.

Why can't they seek employment in the state of their birth? Why have they to look for greener pastures outside Sarawak?

I said from the bottom of my heart that the Ibans are poor because the BN Government has not looked after them well. With so many years in the Dewan Undangan Negeri, I know that their elected wakil rakyat are happy with the BN Government. As a result not much has changed in the lives and welfare of the Iban communities.

I said that during my time in the Dewan Undangan Negeri, I have not heard the Iban elected wakil rakyat of the BN fighting earnestly for the community, especially in solving the problems concerning the NCR land.

Over the years, we see NCR land taken from the Ibans. Yet, despite their so called involvement in the New Concept of NCR Development, many Ibans have complained that they have not been given their just rewards and dividends.

The Ibans should help themselves by booting out the BN Government in the next state election.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Spanking New CIQ Johor Bahru?

Ater 41 years of being in operation, the Malaysia-Singapore Causeway checkpoint finally closed its doors at 12.01am on 15 Dec. All activities and its operations moved to the spanking new Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex.

The immigration department director said that “traffic was at a slight crawl as there were some technical difficulties. All immigration personnel have been moved to the new complex, and we expect the new complex will reduce traffic congestion."

But since, the Star letters page have been flooded with non-stop complaints. I'm sure they have received much more rude letters which can't actually be printed as well from commuters. Check out letters "Chaos at new CIQ Complex", "No excuse for chaos" and "Pedestrians have it tough".

And 'Suffered Man' wrote to me to describe the complete failure by the traffic and engineering consultants at the CIQ.

Hi Tony,

I am one of the few hundred thousands of people travelling everyday to work in Singapore. The new CIQ that was operated fully since Tuesday, 16th Dec. have caused a disaster to us.

I feel very very disappointed because our stupid government never study properly on whole building design. The roads lead to the checkpoint are very narrow (2 lines). So it causea bottleneck at checkpoint. Imagine the mouth is so big but the stomach is so small. The traffic at the entrance is so massive but inner ring roads are only two lanes.

Malaysia boleh?  Pic courtesy of The Star Gallery

How do they going to solve this problem? The roads have been built, and seem like there are no ways to expand it. Did they survey properly on the traffic flow before building this CIQ? I think probably NO.

I just think that we are earning foreign currency and brining back to Malaysia to spend, more or less has been helping local economy to go on. We love our country. But did country loves too? What has this stupid government done to us? Those VIP & VVIP come down JB and have a grant opening for CIQ, then left silently without taking care of our suffer here after this.

Please help us to question them in Parliment, how are they going to solve this problems??? If not those VIP & VVIP will 'buat tak tau' and never solve this problem at all.

If you go back to your hometown (Batu Pahat), kindly do pay a visit to this 'luxurious' CIQ.

Your help is much highly appreciated.

Best Regards,
Suffered Man from JB

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Glomac Damansara: Was There Consultation?

Here's a perfect example of why our current local government system is completely screwed up. Let me put it forward very briefly as follows:
  • Developer for Glomac Damansara (check out the density for yourself) for Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) puts up the Development Proposal Notice at the site at the end of 2007. 

  • Interestingly enough, within a few days, the Notice Board gets hidden by opaque fences put up around the development site.

  • SS20 Rukun Tetangga chairperson spotted the notice and quickly submitted a letter to DBKL to object to the project, or at least to have it reviewed before the deadline allowed.

  • However, there was absolute silence from DBKL. I found out about the project sometime in Jun this year after being elected MP for Petaling Jaya Utara, which covers SS20. I spoke to my colleague, the MP for Segambut (which covers TTDI), Lim Lip Eng to follow up with DBKL and check on the status.

  • The project is now at a full-steam ahead pace. The response from DBKL was, SS20 was in Petaling Jaya which is not under its jurisdiction, and hence have no legal basis to submit complaints, despite being directly opposite the old Jalan Damansara road which forms the boundary between KL and PJ.
Ridiculous right? Wait til you hear what the Deputy Minister of Federal Territories say in parliament in response to my query (or see Hansard pg 52).
Sebenarnya kawasan saya bukannya di dalam kawasan Wilayah Persekutuan tetapi di sebelah kawasan Segambut, PJ Utara. Saya ingin menimbulkan satu perkara, satu isu yang telah terjadi di kawasan Taman Tun iaitu di kawasan Segambut yang bersempadan dengan kawasan SS20 di kawasan PJ Utara. Ada satu projek yang baru yang tengah dibangunkan di kawasan Taman Tun ini yang bernama Glomac Damansara dan ianya telah diluluskan saya agak pada akhir tahun lalu dan satu papan cadangan telah dinaikkan pada bulan November atau Disember tahun lalu.

Penduduk di sebelah jalan iaitu di SS20 kawasan saya telah pun menulis kepada pihak DBKL untuk membantah ataupun meminta supaya satu dialog ataupun satu penjelasan diadakan sebelum projek ini diteruskan dan dibina di kawasan Taman Tun. Akan tetapi pendedahan yang telah dimasukkan ke dalam DBKL ini langsung tidak diambil kira sebelum projek ini diberikan kelulusan dan projek ini buat masa ini telah pun berjalan.

Apabila saya menimbulkan perkara ini bersama dengan rakan saya dari Segambut ke pihak DBKL, pihak DBKL menjawab oleh kerana pihak pembantah adalah bukan daripada dalam Wilayah Persekutuan, mereka tidak ada locus standi untuk membantah mengenai projek ini.

Saya agak jawapan yang telah diberikan oleh pihak DBKL adalah tidak munasabah dan juga bersikap angkuh terhadap rakyat dan isu-isu yang perlu dipertimbangkan oleh pihak DBKL.

Selain daripada itu, saya juga ingin mendapat tahu adakah pihak DBKL apabila dia meluluskan apa-apa projek di kawasan Wilayah Persekutuan, terutamanya di kawasan sempadan yang bersempadan dengan kawasan lain di Selangor seperti di Petaling Jaya Utara, adakah satu perbincangan diadakan dengan pihak majlis perbandaran yang lain di sebelah itu. Saya rasa sudah ada banyak projek yang telah diluluskan di kawasan sana yang menyeberangi kawasan Taman Tun yang akan meningkatkan trafik di kawasan itu seperti adanya projek Tropicana City di MPPJ dan juga projek-projek yang lain yang bersempadan dengan pihak Taman Tun.

Adakah satu penyeluruhan mengenai traffic flow diadakan, satu study mengenai seluruh kawasan tersebut sebelum satu-satu projek diluluskan sebab projek ini adalah satu mix development, satu projek yang besar dan telah diiklankan oleh pihak pemaju sebagai satu projek yang bernilai RM500 juta di kawasan itu. Penduduk-penduduk yang di kawasan Petaling Jaya saya buat masa ini selalu membuat aduan kepada saya kerana mereka rasa mereka telah dipinggirkan.

...So, saya harap pihak DBKL dan juga pihak kementerian dapat menjawab supaya DBKL akan lebih mengambil kira isu-isu yang akan dibawa oleh semua penduduk di satu kawasan yang tengah dimajukan dan bukan sahaja penduduk-penduduk yang ada dalam Wilayah Persekutuan sahaja.
And the short reply from the Deputy Minister was (pg 89):
Seterusnya mengenai isu yang dibangkitkan oleh Ahli Yang Berhormat Petaling Jaya mengenai bantahan penduduk daripada SS20 berkenaan pembangunan di Lot 73, Jalan Damansara. Bantahan penduduk SS20 telah diambil kira dan Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur sedang mempertimbangkan dalam permohonan ini. Sesi penerangan telah dibuat bersama penduduk Taman Tun Dr. Ismail dan wakil penduduk SS20 Damansara pada 6 Oktober 2008. Pemaju telah membuat kajian trafik selaras dengan kehendak Jabatan Pengangkutan Bandar Kuala Lumpur.
End of story. Which means that allegedly a consultation has taken place in October this year with not only the residents of TTDI (which I'm unable to verify) as well as with SS20 representatives!

To be frank, I was a little stunned with the reply and didn't pursue the matter further in Parliament that day. After that I met up with the SS20 RT chairperson, and once again, she reaffirmed that there has been absolutely no contact and no consultation with the residents of SS20 since the letter was submitted in December 2007.

So the Deputy Minister has lied and misled the Parliament (which technically is a very serious offence, but we'll never get anywhere pursuing it - BN ministers and MPs does it all the time) and got away with it.

I'll now have to follow up on the matter further but these things really sometimes drive you up the wall as the arrogance of DBKL and the BN government on these issues affecting the people's livelihood are treated with total disdain and disinterest.

Interfaith Dialogue on Poverty

Pleased to inform that Klang MP Charles Santiago will hold an 'Interfaith Dialogue on Poverty' to highlight the issue of poverty and civil society's effort to deal with it and to encourage inter-religious interaction.

The keynote speech will be delivered by Dr. Hermen Shastri.  The other participating speakers are:
  • Islam : YB Khalid Samad (MP Shah Alam), Mr. Ismail Arsat (YDP PAS Klang)
  • Christian : Father Lawrence
  • Hindu : Mr. Kanapathy
  • Taoism : Mr. Wong Boon Chuan
  • Sikh : Hargopal Singh
  • Buddhism : To be confirmed
  • Bahai : To be confirmed
The details of the event are as follows:
Date : 20th Dec 2008 (Sat)
Time : 3:00pm – 6:00pm
Venue : MP Klang Community Centre, 2A, Jalan Bayu Tinggi 8/KS6, Batu Unjur, 41200 Klang
 This is an open event, anyone can join and invite others to join.. please call Yap (016-2026300) or Sarah (016-6267797) to confirm your attendance or if you have any queries.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Local Government Elections?

We have been talking about local government elections for the longest time. We pushed it hard during the last general elections. I know I did. I also know that there are many who have criticised the Pakatan Rakyat state governments as to why such elections have not been held.

There have been many reasons given for the delay, some of which I find very real and valid, others less so. I'll not deal with these reasons on this blog post. Instead, I've finally gotten a reply from the Ministry of Housing & Local Government on my following question with regards to local government elections.
[Petaling Jaya Utara] minta Menteri Perumahan dan Kerajaan Tempatan menyatakan sama ada kerajaan akan membantah ataupun menghalang negeri-negeri yang dipimpin oleh DAP, PKR dan PAS melaksanakan pilihan raya Kerajaan Tempatan yang merupakan ruang lingkup kuasa Kerajaan Negeri. Jika ia, sila memberikan penjelasan yang terperinci.
The answer by the Ministry was essentially to say that the state has no such right as follows.
Untuk makluman Ahli Yang Berhormat, cadangan untuk mengadakan semula pilihan raya kerajaan tempatan adalah tidak selaras dengan undang-undang dan dasar sedia ada. Antara undang-undang yang berkenaan ialah Akta Kerajaan Tempatan 1976 (Akta 171) dan Akta Pilihanraya Kerajaan Tempatan 1960 (Akta 473).

Walaubagaimanapun, sekiranya terdapat cadangan untuk mengadakan pilihan raya kerajaan tempatan, maka selaras dengan peruntukan Perkara 96A Perlembagaan Persekutuan, persoalan dasar berhubung cadangan ini hendaklah terlebih dahulu dipertimbang dan diputuskan di peringkat Majlis Negara bagi Kerajaan Tempatan.
Is it? Is it not? I'm no legal expert but I do know that there's clearly uncertainty over who has control over local government elections. Regardless, it's clear from the answer above that the Federal Government will not support any attempts at local elections at the state government level.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Biro Tatanegara

I've asked about the racist nature of the Barisan Nasional's propaganda organ Biro Tatanegara and have received a written reply from the Prime Minister's office. I've blogged it here on my Education in Malaysia blog for those interested on the issue. ;-)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fighting UUCA Tooth & Nail

Apologies for not having blogged for about a week. Besides a break since November was a record blogging month here, I was tied up with a few things, most notably "selling" dinner tickets as well as parliamentary work, particularly the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) which came up for debate in Parliament on Wednesday last week.

While, the most recent amendments to the UUCA has been passed without amendments late Thursday evening, readers should know (if it's of any comfort) that it was not passed before the representatives from Pakatan Rakyat giving the Minister of Higher Education some serious and often, uncomfortable grilling before it got passed.

At the same time, on behalf of an informal Pakatan Rakyat UUCA committee led by Nurul Izzah Anwar (LEMBAH PANTAI) and input from many academics, I have filed a motion to amend some 20 clauses in 6 sections, to the Amendment Act proposed by the Higher Education Ministry. Short of proposing a new bill, which will never see the light of day in the parliament, attempting to amend a bill which is put forward by the Government is the nearest and best available option to present our version of the bill.

The above is footage by Malaysiakini on a press conference which I gave a summary on the proposed amendments to the UUCA amendment bill.

I will blog on each of the sections which I have attempted to amend at the Committee stage of debate on the Amendment bill separate, as they are really long but most importantly, I will blog on the response of the Higher Education Minister on each of these sections, some of which were a real disappointing disgrace.

And for those who can't wait to read a little of my thoughts on UUCA, feel free to check out my posts on Education in Malaysia.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

ValueCap Not For Bailouts?

Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak continued to insist that the RM5 billion injection of public funds into the Valuecap Sdn Bhd investment fund will not be used to either bail out the politically connected of any government-linked companies (GLCs) as reported in the media today.

His denial has come to calm public fears and unhappiness over the move to direct the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to lend the RM5 billion to Valuecap.

However, his assurances lacks conviction for he has still begs many many questions.
  1. With so many credible foreign and local investment and fund managers with extensive experience in the local markets, why is it that the Government is not direct funds to these institutions to “value invest”? Why is it that the Government is directing these funds to a little known company, ValueCap, with uncertain, opaque and questionable track record to invest such a large sum of money?

  2. The fact that the original bond amounting to RM5.1 billion which will expire in March 2009 has been further extended beyond the terms of the agreement raises the question as why a company which has not been able to repay such an amount, be extended an additional RM5 billion? ValueCap is set to become one of the rare fund management company in the world which invests with nearly 100% of its investment capital sourced from loans and not from investors.

  3. After initial protests by the public on EPF's loan to ValueCap which is subjected to extensive risks, the Government took the most irresponsible step of becoming the guarantor to the loan. What that essentially means is that should ValueCap fail to repay the EPF, the tax payers will then bear the burden of the loan. 
This measure will also create a moral hazard situation whereby the fund managers will likely adopt a high risk investment strategy since there is no “downside” to the investment for the Government will bail them out in the event of failure.

In fact, the repeated attempts to provide verbal reassurance on EPF's RM5 billion injection by the Finance Minister clearly demonstrate continued public opposition to the measure since it was first announced more than a month ago.

Hence, Datuk Seri Najib should do what a responsible Finance Minster should do, that is to reverse the RM5 billion injection decision, and instead place appropriate pressure on the EPF investment board to improve the performance of its investment returns.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Syed Hamid Appoints Perception Expert

Over the past week, the police force as well as the Deputy Prime Minister have launched a concerted "public relations" attempt to fight the "perception" that crime is high in Malaysia, instead of fighting crime itself. They had loudly proclaimed that Malaysia is a safer place than countries such as Japan, Hong Kong and is even comparable to Singapore.

However, the exercised proved shortlived as DAP presented hard facts and information over the past few days via press conferences and in Parliament itself, that Malaysia is in not in anyway safer than Japan or Hong Kong, or even comparable to Singapore. I've blogged the research in detail here, or to quote Sdr Lim Kit Siang on his blog:
For instance, homicide per 100,000 population is 1.09 cases in Japan, 0.26 cases in Hong Kong but 2.12 in Malaysia; while rape per 100,000 population is 1.62 in Japan, 1.54 in Hong Kong while in Malaysia it is 11.47. For robbery per 100,000 population, it is 4.78 for Japan, 17.56 for Hong Kong while 90.49 for Malaysia.
Instead of taking the criticisms in the right spirit, and start to really act on crime in Malaysia, guess what our Home Minister decided to persist with his fight with "perception". I have just read in Financial Daily today that
...[t]he government intends to appoint an expert in criminal studies from a local university to do research on crime rate in the country in an effort to convince the people that the crime rate in Malaysia is lower than that in several other countries.
WHAT?! Faint(!) (If you want to faint a second time, read the report from The Star here)

Will someone be willing to pay and engage an "expert" in our local university to do a research to produce a report which will convince the Government that they are doing a terrible job in solving crime and that crime really is getting unbearable in this country?

I've provided all the relevant links and data sources for the information we have in our press statements as well as on my blog. These are the all sourced from the official government websites in Japan and Singapore. The police and Ministry just have to verify those information to obtain the "truth"!

With a Home Minister like Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, is there hope that crime will actually stop increasing, much less reducing it? I can only shake my head in absolutely and total disgust.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Christmas Carol in Recession

I got this Christmas Carol in mail, thought it's quite apt given the BN government's continued denial of what's happening.  Music please!
You'd better watch out,
You'd better not cry;
You'd better keep cash,
I'm telling you why:
Recession is coming to town.

It's hitting you once,
It's hitting you twice
It doesn't care if you've been careful and wise
Recession is coming to town

It's worthless if you've got shares
It's worthless if you've got bonds
It's safe when you've got cash in hand
So keep cash for goodness sake, HEY

You'd better watch out
You'd better not cry
You'd better keep cash
I'm telling you why:
Recession is coming to town!

Finance products are confusing
Finance products are so vague
The banks make you bear the cost of risk
So keep out for goodness sake, OH

You'd better watch out
You'd better not cry
You'd better keep cash
I'm telling you why:
Recession is coming to town.
An early "Happy Christmas" to you! ;-)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What Economic Crisis?

So says the Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Kong Cho Ha.
Malaysia is only feeling the minimum impact of the global economic crisis and financial meltdown, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Kong Cho Ha told the Dewan Negara today...

“It is only feeling the pinch indirectly from the minimum impact of the sub-prime mortgage crisis cushioned by the strong domestic economy,” he said when replying to a supplementary question from Senator Maijol Mahap during question time.
So guys, don't worry, be happy. ;-)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Crime is all Perception

That's what the Royal Malaysian Police and the Government would like you to think. Clearly, it seems if since the Police can't fight crime effectively, the next best thing to do is to fight perception.

The Royal Malaysian Police and the Deputy Prime Minister have over the past few days, gone on an offensive to blame the high crime rates in Malaysia on “perception”.

The Star reported on 30th November that the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Tan Sri Ismail Omar said the latest statistics showed the crime index to be 772 cases per 100,000 residents and compared it favourably against Singapore which according to him “recorded 704.7 cases, Hong Kong (1,166), Japan (1,569) and Australia (4,470)”.

On 1st December, the IGP himself, Tan Sri Musa Hassan was reported in the New Straits Times saying that “our crime rate is still low compared with many other countries although the global trend shows an increase... Singapore's crime rate is 740.7 cases for every 100,000 population, Hong Kong's is 1,166, Japan's is 1,569, Australia's is 4,470 and Rome's is 8,341.”

As reported in the Malaysian Insider, “Malaysia is still a very safe country, but the problem is public perception. We are trying our level best to give a correct picture,” Federal Criminal Investigation Department director Datuk Mohd Bakri Zinin told The Straits Times.

And as reported in the media today, our Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak said that "our perception of crime must change" because “based on the statistics given by the police, it indicates that the crime rate in Malaysia is lower than Japan and Hong Kong.”

The above appears to be a concerted effort by the Government to downplay the significance of 2% increase in the crime index as of October this year compared to last year, as well as to blame the public concerons over high crime rates in Malaysia as a matter of misplaced “perception”.

Howvever, the Royal Malaysian Police has failed to provide the full picture in the statistics provided and instead have given a misleading perception that Malaysia is much safer than Japan, which is renown as one of the safest countries in the world.

Based on statistics provided by the Statistics Bureau of Japan, in 2007, the crime rate per 100,000 is 1,493.6. However, approximately 75% of this number is classified as “larceny” or theft (e.g., shoplifting etc.)

Similarly in 2005, the crime rate per 100,000 is 1,775.7. However, larceny made up 76% of all cases, while violent crimes which includes homicide, arson, rape, bodily injury etc., made up 3.8% or 66.6 cases per 100,000. Homicide and rape cases form 1.09 and 1.62 cases per 100,000 population respectively. In contrast, for 2007, violent crimes recorded 180.1 cases per 100,000 while homicide and rape cases in Malaysia form 2.12 and 11.47 cases per 100,000 population respectively.

The biggest contrast is for robbery cases in Japan which records only 4.69 cases per 100,000 while it's a staggering 88.76 cases for Malaysia. Similarly, criminal intimidation in Japan records only 1.92 cases per 100,000 while in Malaysia it's 21.31 cases. Hence, the Government's attempts to paint a picture that Malaysia is much safer than Japan is clearly misleading at best. In fact, from the statistics of violent crimes above, Malaysia is a much more dangerous place when compared to Japan.

To further illustrate how the comparisons with the countries highlighted is misleading is that the Malaysian index includes on violent and property crimes, but excludes white collar and moral crimes. For the Japanese index, “intellectual offences” (e.g., fraud, embezzlement, counterfeit etc.) and moral offences makes up 20% of the total crime rate in 2005.

Similarly in Singapore, the Singapore Police Force announced a crime rate of 715 per 100,000 in 2007 where commercial and miscellaneous crimes constitute 21.8% of the index. Hence the claim that Malaysia is nearly as safe as Singapore is clearly unfounded.

In addition, separate crimes ranking table compiled by NationMaster, Malaysia is ranked 34th in terms of the number of murders per capita, which is higher compared to Australia (43), Italy (47), Hong Kong (59) and Japan (60). In terms of rapes per capita, we are ranked 38th, but still ahead of Italy (46), Japan (54) and Hong Kong (55).

Therefore, while Malaysia is clearly not the worst country in the world in terms of crime, the fact that the crime index has risen by more than 45% since 2003, while violent crimes have increased by more than 85% demonstrates clearly the dire circumstances we are in.

The people of Malaysia no longer feel secure and safe walking the streets. Hence the Government's attempts to change the “perception of crime” in Malaysia by citing statistics which are most misleading is most irresponsible. Instead of continuously blaming public perception as the key reason why crime is seen as serious in this country, the Government and the Royal Malaysian Police should instead focus its efforts in fighting crime and improving its credibility with tangible steps, such as implementing the full recommendations of the Royal Police Commission report which included the restructuring of the police force such that 30% of the police force is transferred from administrative to crime-fighting functions as well as to set up the all-important Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

MCA Faces Identity Crisis?

It's sometimes hard to read MCA these days. At times, they'll try to play 'hero' to the public by voicing out on certain issues - which they should rightly do, but at other times, they'll contradict themselves especially it appears, when there is a possibility of angering their "big brother".

Newly elected political comeback kid, MCA deputy president Chua Soi Lek on Thursday said that "it was time to change the concept of power sharing within Barisan Nasional."
He said that the oft-used slogan of ‘Ketuanan Melayu', or Malay supremacy, that indicated a master and servant relationship was unacceptable.

"We accept Malay leadership, but not Malay supremacy... When we say we reject 'Ketuanan Melayu', we are not challenging the Malay special rights. It is enshrined in our constitution and nobody can take that away at the present moment."

Well, without taking into consideration who made the statement, the content of it sounds like a good statement to me, something that I would say too.
But 2 days later, the MCA president himself, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, the newly elected "maverick" seems to have surprisingly decided to put in all sorts of disclaimers to Chua's statement.
MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek's remark that the concept of Malay supremacy was no longer relevant, is not the party's stand, party president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said today.

"It is his personal view. The MCA's stand will be based on a resolution made by its president or state chairmen," Ong told reporters after chairing the Johor MCA liaison committee meeting here today.
I actually raised my eyebrows when I read the above report, both in Utusan Online, Sinchew Online and in The Malaysian Insider. Now has it got anything to do with dotted lines connecting Datuk Seri Ong's statement to the following statement by UMNO leaders?

From Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein who
...described those questioning the Malay supremacy concept as insincere and only pursuing their personal political interest.
From former Negri Sembilan Menteri Besar Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad who asked MCA
...not raise issues which could hurt the feelings of other races but instead focus on efforts to rebuild the party."Umno could also bring up many issues, but what is the point? What is important is that we clean up our own houses.
Or from UMNO Secretary-General, Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor who said
...there is no point of ketuanan (supremacy) if Malays are not the masters... He should look at the incidents in Mumbai and Bangkok and not be emotional when making a statement.
Go figure.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

"2008 Celebrating Hope & Change" Dinner

As blogged earlier, and a gentle reminder, we look forward to your support to make this fund-raising dinner a success. The Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng has also confirmed his attendance to speak at the function.

"2008 - Celebrating The Year of Hope & Change"
Venue: MBPJ Dewan Banquet
Date: 17 December 2008 (Wednesday)
Time: 7.30pm
Speakers: Lim Guan Eng, Gobind Singh, Tony Pua, Lau Weng San,
Dr Cheah Wing Yin, Hannah Yeoh
Halal Chinese food will be served, and the primary language for this dinner will be English.

The cost of the dinner will be RM60 per pax or RM600 per table. VIP tables are also available for RM1,500 a table. The funds raised from the dinner, anticipated to be approximately RM30,000 each will be used for running our respective service centres, and a portion donated to DAP Selangor and DAP Malaysia. Even for my office alone, it costs at least RM10,000 to operate monthly with 3-4 staff and any shortfall essentially comes from my own allowance as a Member of Parliament.

Hence we look forward to your generous support to help us provide our services to the public. For reservations, please email to or to me directly with your name, contact number, which dinner(s) and number of seats or tables (VIP or normal) required. We will then get back to you with further information.

For those who are not able to make the dinner, donations are also very much welcome ;-). Cheques should be written to "DAP Damansara Branch" or cash can be deposited at DAP Damansara Maybank account: 5141 9634 2008. Credit card payment is also available upon request.

Thank you once again for your continued support!

Arrested Development

My latest article for The NutGraph looked once again (no more after this, I assure you, as this was written just after the episode occurred), at my arrest by the Royal Malaysian Police for attending an alleged illegal gathering at the PJ Civic Centre (note also the irony of the venue).

Besides a personal take on the "experience", I also touched on the robust debate as to whether I should even have attended the event here, and would it have compromised my role as a member of parliament.
WELL, it was just going to be a sooner-or-later thing. Getting arrested is kinda like a serious occupational hazard for a politician, elected or otherwise, who belongs in the opposition camp in this country.

So when I was actually arrested on Sunday, 9 Nov 2008, at the candlelight vigil commemorating the first anniversary of the historic Bersih (Coalition for Clean and Fair Election) rally, I was certainly not mentally unprepared. Especially not after the ISA (Internal Security Act) "scare" just a few weeks earlier.

I still remember my very first interview with a senior journalist from a local paper when I was about to quit my job, sell my company and join the topsy-turvy world of politics with the DAP, some 18 months ago. As the interview ended, she said she really couldn't imagine me, this geeky, pseudo-intellectual (aka nerd), corporate personality involved in your "typical" opposition activities such as street rallies, protest demonstrations, and of course, getting arrested by the police.
Read the full article here and enjoy! ;-)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

PAS & Prohibition

The storm over the issue of severely restricting the sale of alcohol in Selangor has since come to pass when the proposal which was to be tabled in the Majlis Perbandaran Klang (MPK) meeting this morning was withdrawn, and the Selangor Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim gave a press conference to douse the fire later in the afternoon.

I had issued a media statement earlier in the morning with headlines on the issue appearing on all Chinese press. While, the matter may have come to a momentary pass, some of the points, which were also reported in Malaysiakini and The Malaysian Insider remain valid, so I'll repost my entire statement below.

PAS Selangor Needs A Crash Course on Coalition Politics

The Chinese vernacular press today had headlines screaming that PAS Selangor intends to impose a ban on the sale of alcohol throughout the state, which will involve stopping the sale of these products in 7-11 outlets, mini-markets as well as 'open' coffee shops.

It also appears that despite not having obtain approval for such a proposal in the Selangor state executive committee (EXCO), PAS Selangor has attempted to subvert the EXCO's authority by introducing such regulations in Selangor by instructing its municipal councillors to table such motions for approval at the local councils.

While PAS Selangor has every right to propose any regulations it feels is necessary, they must not forget that in Selangor, they are part of a coalition comprising of 2 other parties in the state whereby they possess 8 seats out of 36 seats won by the Pakatan Rakyat coalition. Therefore, any attempts by PAS Selangor to flex its muscles without due regard to its fellow coalition partners will be deemed as arrogant and uncooperative, which will only serve to weaken the governing coalition which was voted in by the Selangor citizens.

More critically, PAS must understand the fact that Selangor, perhaps more than any other state is one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan states in the country, with non-Malays and non-Muslims comprising at least 49% of the population. PAS Selangor leadership under State Executive Councillor, Datuk Dr Mohd Hasan Ali must realise that it has won many seats in Selangor which are mixed constituencies such as Kota Raja parliamentary seat. PAS has won with a sizeable 8,329 votes majority, despite the fact that more than 50% of the population are non-Muslims – a feat which was previously unimaginable before March 8th.

Hence, if PAS Selangor choses to ignore the spirit of the multi-racial and multi-cultural mandate granted by the people of Selangor in the last elections, its continued unilateral attempts to impose its views in the Selangor administration will only lead to the break up in the state Pakatan Rakyat.

The DAP does not and will never support the sale of “haram” goods such as alcohol and spirits to Muslims, giving full respect to each their religious beliefs. However, the DAP will never support the blanket banning on the sale of alcohol in retail outlets, not because we encourage the promotion of alcohol consumption but because the proposed ban in essence infringes on the rights of others in state of Selangor.

We call upon the state PAS leadership to listen to the voice of reason not only from its coalition partners but also from within its own party which is not unanimous with the decision. PAS Selangor must understand that it is part of a coalition led by the Selangor Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and learn quickly the intricacies of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition which is vastly different from the Barisan Nasional, where UMNO lords over its coalition partners.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Who Is In Charge of Licensed Money Lenders?

Malaysia is flooded with many "licensed" money lenders who we read about often in the newspapers. They are often viewed as licensed "ah longs" who have legal basis to lend money but uses not necessary so legal means to recover debts.

Here's a little trivia for you. Which Ministry is in-charge of these "licensed money lenders"? Well, if you are "new" to Malaysian politics, it's not the Ministry of Finance, where it logically should be. After all, logic is not what is the strength of our Government's administration (e.g., 13 agencies under different ministries takes care of public transportation).

What is possibly most surprising when I discovered this fact about 2 years ago is that money lenders are actually licensed by Ministry of Housing and Local Government. Yes, you heard (read) me right. How on earth is money lending activities related to this Ministry, you are likely to ask. Well, to understand the above, you'll probably need to understand the background to the Barisan Nasional administration, that is the Housing & Local Government ministry has always been the domain of component party, Malaysia Chinese Association (MCA). So you can further infer the connection between the political party and the business the Ministry is tasked to "regulate".

Well, out of curiosity of what the official answer from the Ministry is going to be, I asked the Prime Minister the following question:
...[apakah] sebab kuasa perlesenan syarikat pinjaman wang berada dalam Kementerian Perumahan dan Kerajaan tempatan dan bukannya satu fungsi Kementerian Kewangan yang lebih berpengaruh dan berkepakaran dalam bidang kewangan.
The reply from the Prime Minister's office is as follows:
Untuk makluman Ahli Yang Berhormat, perniagaan pinjaman wang dan pajak gadai merupakan peninggalan (atau legasi) dari sistem pentadbiran terdahulu.

Peniagaan ini tidak diletakkan di bawah kawal selia Kementerian Kewangan ataupun Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) kerana syarikat-syarikat yang menjalankan perniagaan tersebut tidak dibenarkan mengambil deposit dari para pelanggan. Untuk menjalankan perniagaan, syarikat-syarikat yang dilesenkan perlu mempunyai modal sendiri yang mencukupi untuk memberikan pinjaman. Oleh yang demikian, syarikat-syarikat yang menjalankan perniagaan pinjaman wang dan pajak gadai tidak terdedah kepada ancaman kewangan yang boleh menyebabkan "economic risk" (dengan izin) atau ketidakstabilan kewangan, seperti yang terdapat pada bank-bank dan institusi kewangan komersil.

Sekiranya terdapat cadang untuk memindahkan kuasa kawal selia syarikat-syarikat yang menjalankan perniagaan pinjaman wang dan pajak gadai ke Kementerian Kewangan, satu kajian yang menyeluruh perlu dilaksanakan oleh Kerajaan sebelum sebarang keputusan diambil. Ini adalah kerana satu persetujuan perlu dicapai oleh pihak kementerian dan syarikat-syarikat tersubut mengenai tatacara pengurusan risiko kredit (credit risk manangement practice) yang dipraktikkan.
Make what you will with the reply above. I found the argument that a money lenders' license is unconnected with the country's credit system just plain ignorant or even ludicrous , or even the fact that these licensees need to agree before a change in ministerial responsibilities is effected.

Released from Police Bail

The above is a 7 minute video shot by BK on the night of the his own arrest.

As you would probably have read in the online news reports yesterday, those who were arrested on 10th November for the peaceful candlelight vigil to protest against the Internal Security Act as well as to commemorate the 1st anniversary of the BERSIH rally, have all been released from police bail, after reporting ourselves to the PJ police station yesterday morning.

As the officer-in-charge stated, "we'll call you if you get charged". Otherwise, we don't have to report back to the police station. ;-)

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I've written a few times on public transportation in this country, but one of the issues which I'm extremely concerned about but have not really delve into is the issue of taxis in Malaysia.

I had the opportunity, and was in time (after being released from my arrest) to pose my question in Parliament during the oral question and answer session to the Minister of Entrepreneurship Development and Cooperatives (MEDC) on Monday last week on the state of affairs of the taxi system in the country at this point of time.
[PETALING JAYA UTARA] minta Menteri Pembangunan Usahawan dan Koperasi menyatakan sebab kegagalan kerajaan melaksanakan dan menguatkuasakan kegunaan sistem tambang bermeter untuk perkhidmatan teksi, terutamanya di bandar-bandar pelancongan seperti Pulau Pinang, Melaka dan Johor Bahru dan juga tempat tertentu di Lembah Klang seperti Perhentian Bas Pudu Raya dan KL Sentral.
His response was the lengthiest I've received on the issue, as is also available from the Hansard here (pages 2-5).
Menteri Pembangunan Usahawan dan Koperasi [Dato’ Haji Noh bin Haji Omar]: Tuan Yang di-Pertua, untuk makluman Ahli Yang Berhormat, kegagalan kerajaan melaksanakan dan menguatkuasakan kegunaan sistem tambang bermeter untuk perkhidmatan teksi terutamanya di bandar-bandar pelancongan seperti Pulau Pinang, Melaka dan Johor Bahru dan juga tempat tertentu di Lembah Klang seperti Perhentian Bas Pudu Raya dan KL Sentral adalah disebabkan perkara-perkara seperti berikut:

(i) sikap pemandu yang berasa mereka mempunyai pilihan untuk mengaut keuntungan dalam jangka masa pendek tanpa memikirkan kesan jangka masa panjang di mana kemungkinan pemilik lesen dikenakan tindakan gantung atau batal lesen sekiranya sabit kesalahan hasil aduan atau tangkapan penguat kuasa LPKP atau JPJ;

(ii) sikap penumpang yang masih mempunyai persepsi yang kurang tepat tentang konsep menggunakan khidmat teksi di mana penumpang masih bertanyakan pemandu tentang harga tambang dan lokasi, sedangkan mereka sepatutnya hanya perlu terus masuk ke dalam teksi dan meminta pemandu ke destinasi yang diingini; dan

(iii) sikap pengadu yang kurang memberi kerjasama dalam menyampaikan maklumat secara lengkap untuk laporan terperinci disediakan serta mengelak untuk menjadi saksi atas kesalahan melibatkan pemandu.

Walau bagaimanapun, pihak kementerian serta agensi-agensi penguat kuasa lain terus
menguatkuasakan sistem tambang bermeter melalui:

(i) operasi harian dan berkala di kawasan zon teksi dengan mengambil tindakan terhadap teksi yang terbabit oleh LPKP; dan

(ii) operasi penyamaran dengan menaiki teksi bagi memastikan pemandu menggunakan meter oleh JPJ.

Secara keseluruhannya bagi tempoh Januari hingga Jun 2008 sebanyak 1,298 kes
tangkapan dibuat untuk pelbagai jenis kesalahan melibatkan teksi di Semenanjung Malaysia oleh LPKP. Daripada jumlah ini sebanyak 771 kes atau 60% merupakan kes tangkapan terhadap kesalahan enggan menggunakan meter. Terima kasih.
It was lengthy but it still did not really answer the question as to why it's happening today. Hence in my supplementary question, I wanted to push my point that the Ministry has failed after all these years, and a new paradigm is required to resolve this issue:
[Petaling Jaya Utara]: Terima kasih Tuan Yang di-Pertua, terima kasih Yang Berhormat Menteri. Masalah ini adalah satu masalah yang agak lama sejak saya pertama kali datang ke Kuala Lumpur 20 tahun yang lalu. Pertama kali datang kena tipu oleh pihak polis - pihak polis pulak - pihak pemandu teksi dengan harga yang mahal. [Ketawa]

Tahun ini juga saya melancong ke Pulau Pinang, perjalanan yang agak pendek dari KOMTAR ke Padang Brown yang memakan masa tidak melebihi 5 minit pun kena RM10 juga. Masalah ini sudah lama. Kenapa sampai sekarang ini belum lagi dapat selesai? 
Kenapa bila saya pergi ke negara lain walaupun bukannya negara maju seperti Singapore dan Hong Kong, pergi Thailand, pergi Vietnam, pergi Jakarta, semua pakai meter. Semua dapat pakai meter.
Timbalan Yang di-Pertua: Baik, Yang Berhormat. Soalan, Yang Berhormat.

[Petaling Jaya Utara]: Soalan saya, berapa antara yang ditangkap kerana tidak menggunakan meter telah pun digantung lesennya. Adakah kementerian terlalu lenient terhadap pemandu-pemandu teksi yang tidak mengikut peraturan dan adakah kementerian benar-benar berhasrat untuk menghapuskan masalah ini? Kalau tidak, adakah ianya lebih baik jika tugas ini diserahkan kepada...

[Batu Pahat]: Panjang sangat itu.

[Petaling Jaya Utara]: ...Kementerian Pengangkutan dan kalau tidak, boleh jadi tugas ini boleh diserahkan kepada kuasa negeri-negeri untuk menyelesaikan masalah ini.

Dato’ Dr. Mohamad Shahrum bin Osman [Lipis]: Patutlah kena pukul oleh polis.
Note the interjection by LIPIS displays the standard of government backbenchers you have in Parliament. The Minister's reply was as follows, and the little pandemonium in between:
Dato’ Haji Noh bin Haji Omar: Terima kasih Yang Berhormat. Seperti mana saya nyatakan tadi ada tiga sebab mengapa kita sukar mengambil tindakan. Salah satu sebabnya seperti Yang Berhormatlah, saya ingat. Ini masuk kategori yang ketiga iaitu sikap pengadu yang tidak memberikan kerjasama. Kalau Yang Berhormat sudah naik kereta teksi di Pulau Pinang, sepatutnya Yang Berhormat ambillah dia punya nombor – ambil nombor, ambil nama, beritahu jam pukul berapa – hantar kepada saya. Saya janji saya mesti ambil tindakan. Kita boleh gantung dan kita boleh batalkan. Tindakan kita sudah ambil.

Saya sudah kata tadi bahawa setengah daripada tangkapan yang kita buat, 771 kes kita telah ambil tindakan kerana tidak menggunakan meter dan soalan Yang Berhormat, kita di...

[Petaling Jaya Utara]: Ada digantung tidak?

Dato’ Haji Noh bin Haji Omar: Sabarlah. Itu yang polis pukul itu, belum habis jawab lagi sudah bangun. [Disorak]

Beberapa Ahli: [Menyampuk]

Tuan M. Kula Segaran [Ipoh Barat]: Apa ini cheap shotlah. What a cheap shot.

Tuan N. Gobalakrishnan [Padang Serai]: Menteri...

Dato’ Haji Lilah Yasin [Jempol]: Padan kena pukul.

Dato’ Haji Noh bin Haji Omar: Yang Berhormat...

Tuan N. Gobalakrishnan [Padang Serai]: Apa ini?

Dato’ Haji Noh bin Haji Omar: ...Yang Berhormat, patut Yang Berhormat nasihat dia. Ini my floor. Saya belum habis jawab lagi.

Tuan M. Kula Segaran [Ipoh Barat]: Ini jawab takutkah?

Dr. Dzulkefly Ahmad [Kuala Selangor]: Tak betul, tak betul.

Tuan M. Kula Segaran [Ipoh Barat]: We must understand.

Dato’ Haji Lilah bin Yasin [Jempol]: Orang jahat mesti kena pukul. [Dewan riuh]

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Dr. Haji Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar]: Baik Yang

Tuan M. Kula Segaran [Ipoh Barat]: We must understand the trouble went through.

Tuan N. Gobalakrishnan [Padang Serai]: [Bercakap tanpa pembesar suara]

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Dr. Haji Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar]: Yang Berhormat Padang Serai, Yang Berhormat Ipoh Barat minta tolong. Yang Berhormat Menteri jawab teruskanlah.

Dato’ Haji Noh bin Haji Omar: Bukan understand. Sama-samalah kena understand. Janganlah suruh kerajaan sahaja faham, pembangkang tak nak faham. Sama-sama kena faham. Bagi saya habis dahulu.


Dato’ Haji Noh bin Haji Omar: Tindakan yang telah kita ambil ialah sebanyak 1,173 iaitu, kita sudah beri amaran - 80, kita gantung – 23, kita batalkan lesen – 700 dan kita kompaun – 1,063. Bermakna tindakan telah diambil. Akan tetapi saya percaya Tuan Yang di-Pertua, kalau ramai lagi pengguna-pengguna teksi tampil ke hadapan memberikan maklumat lebih terperinci, kita akan mengambil tindakan yang lebih tegas. Terima kasih.
There's plenty more to say here, but this post is long enough, so I'll leave the readers to make their comments first and make my comments later. Suffice it to say, there's still plenty of question marks, and placing the onus on the MP to report any intransigent taxi drivers to solve the problems is just a non-starter.  Of course, the "kena pukul" pandemonium provided the unnecessary distraction. ;-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Visit To Parliament

We've received many requests on whether we can arrange for visits to Parliament and sit in the public gallery to observe the parliamentary proceedings. We are now scheduling a trip, organised by DAP Petaling Jaya for a visit to parliament:
Date: 3 December 2008 (Wednesday)
Time: 10.00am
Venue: Parliament Lobby
For those who wish to participate the trip, please submit your details to ericahew (at) gmail (dot) com by the 25th November 2008 for us to register your names. Limited seats available, first come first serve.

Participants are required to submit their name (as per their identity cards), IC numbers, correspondence address, handphone numbers and email addresses. Visitors must follow strictly the dress code set by the administration of both Houses.

The particulars you submitted will be sent to the Public Relation Offices of Parliament to get clearance on the day of arrival. The PRO will explain to you briefly the function of Parliament. You will be then invited to sit in the public gallery to watch parliamentary debate. Normally you will be watching the questions and answers session in the morning.

Have fun and see you guys there!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tokyo - A Livable Metropolis?

Tokyo skyscrapers

As blogged earlier, I've just gotten back from Tokyo early this morning. As most of the time, I was stuck in the hotel attending the conference, I didn't manage to do too much sight-seeing, but I did manage to squeeze some time out to do some (will post pictures later - pics posted here from public sources).

One thing however struck me really hard during my brief visit was how remarkably "livable" the metropolis was (for those who experienced otherwise, do share your views here). Lets get some facts out of the way:
Over eight million people live within Tokyo's 23 wards. During the daytime, the population swells by over 2.5 million as workers and students commute from adjacent areas. This effect is even more pronounced in the three central wards of Chiyoda, Chūō, and Minato, whose collective population is less than 300,000 at night, but over two million during the day. The entire prefecture has 12,790,000 residents in October 2007 (8,657,000 in 23 wards), with an increase of over 3 million in the day. (source: Wikipedia)
The population density for Tokyo is 5,796 persons per km². This doesn't take into account an additional 2-3 million workers who commute from outside Tokyo into the city. In addition, this number does not take into account the fact that officially, several outlying islands are official part of Tokyo "land area" as well, which means that the density is likely significantly higher. This compares also against 6,489 persons per km² in Singapore.

Now, given such immense density and skyscrapers within the inner city, one would certainly have expected a certain level of traffic congestion, and probably a significant number of highways criss-crossing the city.

More Tokyo skyscrapers

But no! Right in the city centre, during peak hours, I hardly see many cars on the road. All cars which stopped at traffic lights will get to clear them in one go, and the lights actually switches pretty fast to cater to pedestrians. Where did all the traffic go? And trust me, their skyscrapers are just humongous!

And in the Tokyo suburbs (e.g., Seputeh or Petaling Jaya), most amazingly, the roads are tiny, often barely enough for 1 vehicle to pass through in their residential roads. Yet at the same time, the city generously allocates and cordon off a sizeable portion of the road for pedestrians and cyclists' use. Throughout my stay there, I've never seen these residential roads streaming with motor vehicles.

Yet in Petaling Jaya, many neighbourhood residential roads are becoming main access roads, while access roads have become thoroughfares, and highways such as LDP become massive car parks, especially during peak perids. And we don't have the population, its density and the skyscrapers to match cities like Tokyo or Singapore.

Very simply, the solution is really in creating and building an efficient public transportation system. And this unfortunately, is rather non-existent in Petaling Jaya. If you need to get from Taman Mayang to SS2, there is no option except taking a taxi or your own private vehicle.

In Tokyo, I've never had to wait longer than 5 minutes for any train, even during off-peak hours (didn't get a chance to try their bus system, especially since I'd seriously lack the language skills!)

Hence, if businessmen, developers, some politicians and civil servants are to argue that we need to develop Petaling Jaya further to boost our economy, raise income and wealth levels, I do not totally disagree. In fact, I would agree also with the fact that Petaling Jaya still have plenty of room to "develop" further, especially when contrasted against cities of the developed world.

However, as highlighted in my earlier post yesterday, all new (yet to be approved) major developments must cease so that the city and the state can catch its breath and take stock of the cost of unplanned development, without the necessary mobility infrastructure in place. And as long as the various federal ministries in charge of public transportation do not get their act together and drastically reform and improve the current system, then development will unfortunately have to be limited to the low-rise horizontal sort, instead of the more profitable vertical sort.

The Paradigm - Where did the hills come from?

Looking for example, at the "visual illustration" of The Paradigm mega-development project next to Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP), you would notice how it gives a false sense of space and tranquility with all four corners of its surroundings lined with open spaces and pretty trees. There are even trees-covered hills at a not too far distance away (no idea which part of PJ is that! ;-)).

The buildings are in no doubt top class buildings from a reputable developer listed on Bursa Malaysia. I'm not questioning their quality. I'm just asking, whether we, the city, is ready to cope with such projects cropping up all over the town. Or should it continue to be build first, cope later, like the policies of the previous government.

The trip to Tokyo, sponsored by the Asia Society, certainly opened my eyes a fair bit on how "good" things can still be, despite humongous developments. It's much better than even the state of affairs in enviable cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

Footnote: I've received a fair bit of response from volunteers who are willing to help me with the petition in PJ. I'm still looking for more, so email me if you are keen to help turn PJ into a more livable city.

Monday, November 17, 2008

MPs and Mamak Stalls

I've just received this email:
Dear YB Tony

I really really disappointed with the way u are performimg... when was the last time u actually take a drive around SS 2 at night... notice all the illegal seatings on the roads( mamak stalls)... or are u still waiting for Sep 16... please do SOMETHING !!!, take care of people who voted for u... me and a few thousand people..
What do you think? I don't know how to reply. It's not the first time I got complaints of such nature, and I'm sure it won't be the last.

Freeze High Density Development in PJ?

A daily sight, especially on LDP where the traffic load
has already exceeded the capacity it was built.

The Paradigm - A mega commerial high density project undergoing construction
next to the LDP which will lead to further congestion to LDP
and its neighbouring roads.  How did the traffic study get approved?

This issue was reported in The Star Metro a week or so ago, which highlighted the fact that Petaling Jaya faces real risks of becoming over-developed, if not already so. The journalist, Tan Karr Wei spoke to a few local councillors - Cynthia Gabriel and Robert Tan of MBPJ, and myself on the issue. My comments are as follows.
Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua feels that these kinds of developments would eventually lower the quality of life for PJ residents with many long-term implications such as the lack of open spaces, insufficient drainage, traffic congestions, increase in pollution, among others. Pua said that the city was starting to display traits of becoming overdeveloped.

“We are now finding big shopping centres approved by the previous government at busy traffic junctions, or in the middle of residential areas without appropriate access roads and even conversion of open spaces to large commercial and high density residential projects all around PJ. Comparatively, cities such as Singapore or Hong Kong are more built up than PJ but they have excellent accompanying infrastructure like public transportation to maximise convenience and increase livability. The problem for PJ is many of our new developments are approved without any consideration given to public transport infrastructure,” said Pua.

Pua echoed Tan’s concerns on traffic studies: “The fact that these studies were conducted by consultants appointed by developers clearly created a conflict of interest.”

“In addition, they are conducted on the basis that all other matters are equal. This is most often not the case. An example is the traffic study for Tropicana City, which was conducted without taking into account traffic created by a shopping centre a stone’s throw away in Section 19. To make matters worse, the plan is for additional traffic to be diverted into the old Jalan Damansara dividing SS20 and Taman Tun (Dr Ismail), which comes under two separate city councils (DBKL and MBPJ). It also does not take into account that construction work has already commenced for a commercial centre on the Taman Tun side,” said Pua.

He said that traffic study consultants should be answerable to the local council instead of to developers, at the cost of the latter.

Pua said the MBPJ has a role to play in ensuring that there is an overall city masterplan with total planning on the environment, traffic and public transportation network,

However, he felt that the council had a big task at hand where they have to deal with fragmented pieces of land which has been sold or alienated to private developers who would have little or no interest in sharing costs with each other to build public infrastructures like roads.
I'm thinking to coming up with a people petition to the state government to implement a freeze on all new (and yet to be approved) high-rise development (anything above 4 stories?) in Petaling Jaya until such a time when:
  1. The updated and revised Rancang Tempatan Petaling Jaya (RTPJ) is approved by MBPJ and the state government after all necessary due process such as consultation with the people of Petaling Jaya, and

  2. An efficient public transportation system of high quality and frequency is set up to drastically reduce traffic within the city. While by and large, the state government has only bit roles in setting up public transportation services, it can insist that development project plans will only be approved if public transportation issues have been resolved (e.g., new high density projects can only be approved if there will be buses/trains plying the route etc.)
By "freezing" the approval of new development orders, as well as placing strict restrictions on density on those which have unfortunately been approved (but detailed plans yet to be submitted), it will also incentivise the developers to lobby and negotiate with public transport companies such as RapidKL to increase route coverage.

If you stay in Petaling Jaya and are willing to campaign for this movement and promote the petition (e.g., going house-to-house to get signatures for support), and even better, lead the project, please do not hesitate to contact me @ tonypua (at) yahoo (dot) com. I'll then be more than happy to play the role to lobby the state government with your petition.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Najib: Liberate the Minds of Students

Here's what The Star reported this morning:
There should be an intellectual renaissance to open up and liberate the minds of students, and this should start in the universities, said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

“Our education system must chan ge. Our children are just not curious enough. They must be curious about the world. They must ask questions,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
This should really be posted on my Education blog, but I wasn't even going to discuss the merits of the statement, but just to put it up to show the sheer "audacity" of the Prime Minister-in-waiting, so this blog might be more appropriate.

Can you believe that he probably read his speech with a straight face without flinching at all?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Asia 21 Society Conference in Tokyo

I'm now in Tokyo for a 3 day conference - Asia 21 Young Leaders Initiative Summit - and should be back in Parliament on Monday morning. For those who are trying to reach me - my Malaysian number is incapacitated as I do not own a 3G phone (other systems don't work here, unfortunately).

For any urgent matters, please email me (I still get to check periodically) or call/sms the Damansara Service Centre Hotline 016-2208867.

Civil Dissent Debate

This is a letter which I received from one of my voters, who has kindly permitted me to publish it here. I do not wholly agree with the views expressed by him, but the point here is the space for discussion, which is what a mature democracy is all about.

At the same time, I would not go to the extent that we should go to the streets for every little protest. There needs to be a discretionary balance. In my opinion, the Bersih rally last year galvanised the nation, so should we not have had it?

We can certainly agree on certain issues, while agreeing to disagree on others.

Dear YBs,

We want you to be free to attend Parliament, State Assembly meetings. We don't want you to be behind bars or be found guilty of breaking the law.

Should this happen, we, the constituents will have no voice in the Dewan Rakyat or Dewan negeri. we will only be the losers.

I myself hate such laws, as much as you do. But the law is the law, and it's very clear about getting a permit for any public gathering for such purposes.

Agreed you may have tried many times to get permits from a biased Police force, and failed. Still it is no excuse to break the law. This is what the present authority wants you to do - break the law, then they try you, find you guilty, fine you or imprison you and deprive you of your seat in Parliament of the State assembly. The Police will act-with or without provocation. What will happen if your group has been infiltrated ? The saboteur will only need to throw a small stone, and all hell will break loose ! You'll be accused of trying to overthrow the Government by force, and IMMEDIATELY arrested under the ISA ! That's what the Police and especially Syed Hamid Albar wants. We don't want that to happen, do we ? The Police are not clean. They came with guns and knives, ready to throw these weapons among you and then accuse you of being heavily ARMED with dangerous weapons !

I am just as frustrated as you are. You were lucky, they decided to,let you out to allow you to ask your first question in Parliament. You may not be so lucky the next time. Then I'll be even more frustrated !

Until the day we have a new government, we cannot change the law. When there is a NEW government in place, with a 2/3 majority, then, and only then, we can make changes.

File reports against the Police, bring up the issue in Parliament, alert internation bodies , play up the issue in the press, internet, blogs, but please do not fall into their trap, call ILLEGAL ASSEMBLY !

The Negara ku, our NATIONAL anthem and our flag is the pride of our nation, The Negara Ku is meant to be sung at legal occasions with respect-not at an illegal demonstration. Get your permit - and you can sing it with patriotism and pride ! - without fear !

In the meantime, those who are opposed to the ISA,SEDITION ACT, POLICE ACT 27, ect ect, will have to be patient. We, the people of Malaysia, waited 51 years to see the BN lose it's 2/3 majority, and 5 states. We'll wait for the NEXT election to see further changes.

So please be careful next time, for they can even act if you hold it INDOOR !

"27A. (1) Where any activity takes place on or in any land or premises which do not constitute a public place and—
(a) the activity is directed to, or is intended to be witnessed or heard or participated in by, persons outside the land or premises, or is capable from all the circumstances of being understood as being so directed or intended; or

(b) the activity attracts the presence of twenty persons or more outside the land or premises; or

(c) the activity is likely to be prejudicial to the interest of the security of Malaysia or any part thereof or to excite a disturbance of the peace, any police officer may order the persons involved in the activity to stop the activity and may order all persons found on or in or outside the land or premises to disperse.
(2) Any person who disobeys any order given under subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence.

(3) Where three or more persons neglect or refuse to obey any order given under subsection (1), the activity concerned shall be deemed to be an unlawful activity, and all persons taking part or concerned in the activity, or in organizing or directing the activity, shall be guilty of an offence."

I don't mean to educate you, for you should know better.

Stanley Teoh
PJ Utara

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why SingThe National Anthem?

The Chief Police Officer (CPO) of Selangor, under heavy criticism, retorts to media questioning of police actions by asking "Why Sing The National Anthem?"

Well, the simple answer to his stupid question, if he ever was really looking for an answer, is "Why not?" Is there a law against singing the National Anthem to demonstrate our patriotism to the country, among many many other things? The police seems to have forgotten that the event was held in the interest of, and for the betterment the country.

Fact of the matter is, we have told the crowd to disperse after the anthem is sung, and the police had decided to take action while it was being sung, instead of waiting even a few seconds more.

We took pains to cut short all our speeches, which in total added to no more than 10 minutes (it's all recorded I'm sure, so it's easily verifiable) and told everyone to go home. None of us really have any interest in getting arrested or create problems for the police. But of course, the CPO had to show the nation who's the boss.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

DAP Petaling Jaya Dinners 2008/9

To all readers and supporters, DAP Damansara and Paramount branches will be jointly organising 2 fund-raising dinners over the next two months. We would also take the opportunity to celebrate the year end and new year's festive seasons. The details are as follows:

1. Dinner: "2008 - Celebrating The Year of Hope & Change"
Venue: MBPJ Dewan Banquet
Date: 17 December 2008 (Wednesday)
Time: 7.30pm
Speakers: Lim Guan Eng, Gobind Singh, Hannah Yeoh, Tony Pua, Lau Weng San,
Dr Cheah Wing Yin
Halal Chinese food will be served, and the primary language for this dinner will be English.

2. Dinner: "2009 - Anticipating What's In Store For Malaysia?"
Venue: Damansara Palace Restaurant, Kota Damansara
Date: 15 January 2009 (Thursday)
Time: 7.30pm
Speakers: Lim Kit Siang, Nga Kor Ming, Ean Yong Hian Wah, Tony Pua,
Lau Weng San, Cheah Wing Yin, Tiew Way Keng
Chinese food will be served, and the primary language for this dinner will be Chinese.

The cost of the dinner will be RM60 per pax or RM600 per table. VIP tables are also available for RM1,500 a table. The funds raised from the dinner, anticipated to be approximately RM30,000 each will be used for running our respective service centres, and a portion donated to DAP Selangor and DAP Malaysia. Even for my office alone, it costs at least RM10,000 to operate monthly with 3-4 staff and any shortfall essentially comes from my own allowance as a Member of Parliament.

Hence we look forward to your generous support to help us provide our services to the public. For reservations, please email to or to me directly with your name, contact number, which dinner(s) and number of seats or tables (VIP or normal) required. We will then get back to you with further information.

For those who are not able to make the dinner, donations are also very much welcome ;-). Cheques should be written to "DAP Damansara Branch" or cash can be deposited at DAP Damansara Maybank account: 5141 9634 2008. Credit card payment is also available upon request.

Thank you once again for your continued support!

Why The Unnecessary Force?

I'll just let these pictures taken on the evening of the arrest, and posted on and let them speak for itself. ;-)

Selangor State Assemblyman for Kg Tunku, Lau Weng San was seeking a situation update
from the police officers by their vehicles. For his troubles, despite having identified himself,
he was given two punches on the face and chucked into the police truck as well.

A victim who was pulled from behind and fell with her head first onto the pavement,
resulting in a immediate visit to the hospital. Note her hospital gear.

And these are her blood-stained clothes.
Present here with her is the Selangor State Exco, Ronnie Liu

A few more pictures of minor bruises are available at Penang Watch.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lying Chief Police Officer

Well, you can read accounts from DAP state assemblyman for Kg Tunku, Lau Weng San and myself from here and here. I won't really repeat them here.

But have you read in Malaysiakini that the Chief Police Officer (CPO) of Selangor, denies outright that the police officers charged at the peacefully assembled citizens while the national anthem, Negaraku, was being sung.
Despite video evidence, Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar has denied that the police moved in on participants at a candlelight vigil last night while they were singing the national anthem.

"That is what they (participants) are claiming," Khalid told reporters at the Petaling Jaya police district headquarters about midnight. When told that there was a video recording of the police action, Khalid replied: “I am denying it.”
Well, would you believe your own eyes or this lying chief police officer? Check it out with your own eyes at the video by Malaysiakini here:

Can you trust your police force when even the chiefs are lying to Malaysians? We have already cut short all our speeches, advised all who gathered there to disperse after the anthem was sung, and the Police couldn't even wait for 2-3 more lines of the song be sung.

Released and Back in Parliament

Just a quick note to everyone who have shown great concern, I'm out of the police station now on personal bond (I think that's what it is) and am currently in parliament, in time to ask my scheduled question for No. 2.

I'm due to check back with the police station together with the other 23 persons who were arrested on the 24th November.

I'm in good spirits, so no one needs to worry, will write more later. The Public Accounts Committee is schedule to convene at 11.30am as well to discuss further on the Eurocopter issues.


Was at the candlelight vigil against ISA as well as to commemorate the first anniversary of BERSIH gathering. the story you can read from Malaysiakini.

I was arrested while seeking out Ronnie Liu and the senior police officers in charge to make sure that everyone is ok.

the CPO Selangor issued the call to arrest me, and 2 guys came over to grab one arm each and pushed me towards the Black Maria.

I stated that I will walk, don't be rough but they tore my shirt instead. I repeated my call and 3 other police officers came at me, one with the knees into my belly while another attempted to kick my shin.

They then chucked me against the back of the Black Maria truck and shoved me up despite me stating that I can climb myself.

Apparently after waiting some 2 hours plus, it appears that they are going to keep us for the night here, and charge us tomorrow.

Weng San was also assaulted and had major bruises and some bleeding on the face. He saw the police who assaulted him here at the station, and Ronnie confronted him for his name. he appeared shaken by the demand and he refused to give his name and gave insted some very rude retorts.

Will update if I have sufficient battery. We are in good spirits and the lawyers have just been allowed in. So don't worry guys and gals :-)

Ah, and yes, its my first time. Not at all glamourous. :-)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Sarah Palin: Video Spoofs

Like it or not, political campaigning in the United States can be rather innovative and ingenius. Even famous personalities make spoofs, and let their views be known.

The above is a video by P. Diddy, posted on his blog and had more than half a million views. In it, he "massacred" vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin over her "intelligent" answer over a simple question posted by a TV journalist - "what magazines or newspapers do you read to know what's happening in the world?" (Sounds familiar?)

In Malaysia, while we are certainly catching up in terms of making "political videos", and spreading the message via Facebook (I can't believe that one of my ceramah videos on YouTube, shot by Malaysiakini has received some 115,000 views!), I certainly look forward to the day when our students, and the public are able to come up with more creative and entertaining political video and satires in future elections. ;-)

Here's another one by college students, a la High School Musical ;-)

For more, check out the Top 10 Sarah Palin Spoofing list compiled by Time.

Oh, and in the mean time, while I'm the National Publicity Secretary for DAP, we are looking out for creative talents who would like to join us on our video broadcasting team. Write in to daprocket(at)rocketmail(dot)com.