Friday, September 7, 2007

Either cynical or stupid!

Local Contractors To Gain From Iskandar Development Region

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 6 (Bernama) -- Local contractors will gain from the first wave of investment from the Gulf recently and further inflow into the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) before end of this year, say tax experts and analysts.

The RM4.1 billion injection from reputable companies from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries last week was testimony of foreign investor confidence in Malaysia, they said.

"You need to create and give a push to the area and give reasons for world-class developers to come in, such as providing income tax exemptions and gains from sale of properties," said Taxand Malaysia Sdn Bhd's managing director Dr Veerinderjeet Singh at a roundtable on the 2008 Budget organised by Bernama.

He said the foreign players would be involved in planning and marketing the area, such as luring other global players to locate in the services hub to be created in the region while local contractors would be used to build the infrastructure, such as buildings for their projects.

Veerinderjeet said the IDR was focusing more on the urban metropolis as it is close to Singapore, while the northern and eastern corridors would have a different angle, with similar activities such as agriculture and oil and gas.

"IDR has a different focus. If we are looking at development of infrastructure, there are enough companies in Malaysia which can do the job themselves. Because of IDR's closeness to Singapore, it is looking and developing itself as an urban metropolis," he said.

"It is looking itself as a global city and region. We are looking at attracting the high end level. IDR will drive the property sector," Veerinderjeet said.

"There will be jobs for our local contractors," he said.

Among the incentives provided for companies approved by the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) or IRDA-status companies in qualifying activities are they would not be subject to the Foreign Investment Committee (FIC) requirement of a 30 percent Bumiputera equity.

The qualifying activities are to be in the targeted sectors -- creative industries, educational services, financial advisory and consulting, healthcare, logistics and tourism-related services.

These investment projects approved by the IRDA in designated zones will be eligible for a 10-year corporate tax exemption as well as waiver of the withholding tax on specific payments, provided the projects are implemented by 2015.

The companies undertaking these projects are free to source their capital globally as well as employ foreign staff without restriction, within approved zones.

The government had earlier announced the plan to introduce passport-free zoning, where two areas will be designated as Free Access Zones (FAZ) for foreigners to live and work, where there will be no Immigration and Customs checks for entry.

As for the northern corridor, Veerinderjeet said: "We will wait and see if there are some more incentives for the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER)."

Inter-Pacific Research Sdn Bhd's research head Anthony Dass concurred with Veerinderjeet that local players would be the ones involved in the rudimentary aspects such as building the infrastructure, but planning would be by the "foreign boys" altogether.

He said the IDR, being services- and export-driven, was aimed at wooing foreign investors, and he expected local property companies and construction players in the area to benefit from development in the south.

"The focus now will be on the IDR, that is to woo foreign investors. We are now expecting the IDR to generate the construction sector and related activities," Dass said.

The IDR, a brainchild of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, was launched in November last year and is being designed as a new growth centre for the country.

The RM367.5 billion project was to turn part of southern Johor state into a prosperous Asian metropolis.

The IDR, covering 2,217 square kilometres, is nearly three times the size of Singapore. It is an ambitious plan aimed at making the region bigger than China's Shenzhen, which has greatly benefited from Hong Kong.

Tax Advisory and Management Services Sdn Bhd's executive director Yong Poh Chye also noted that the incentives to attract investors were already announced by the government for the IDR, but these were not applicable to the NCER and eastern corridor.

"No rules yet for the northern region and the eastern corridor. Maybe after the budget, these will be announced," he said.

Laughing stock Lah

Is Muslim Malaysia Melting Down?

By Khadija Abdul Qahaar
Jihad Unspun

Malaysia used to be a Muslim country but nowadays it claims that Islam is the official religion of a multi-religious society that begs the question of whether its current Prime Minster and his promotion of “Civilizational Islam” is causing a meltdown to this once strong Islamic country.

The majority of Malaysian Muslims just role their eyes when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi peddles his Islam Hadhari or "Civilizational Islam", which is a theory of government based on some principles of Islam but that places men, rather than Allah, as the authors of law. While its very convenient for the current adminstration that is steeped in controvery over allegations of corruption to boast this new kind of Islam, it is in fact a much more serious matter.

Not only is Malaysia becoming the laughing stock of the Muslim Ummah for allowing this obvious innovation to Islam to take root at the highest levels, but behind the scenes, there are more subtle examples of how the Malysian government is diluting Islam in preference of Western-style democracy.

Case and point is the 10th Tun Hussein Onn Renewal Awards (THORA) program that began on August 25, 2007. Jointly organized by the Institut Integriti Malaysia (IIM) and the Malaysian Institute of Management (MIM) and, for some reason that only the government knows, sponsored by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAF) of Germany, the six-day event attended by senior managers from both the public and private sectors was designed on the government’s aspirations as reflected in its so-called National Social Policy.

For those who are unaware, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation is a German geo-political foundation associated with that country's Christian Democratic Union. It was founded in 1956 as the "Society for Christian Democratic Education Work" and renamed after the former Chancellor Konrad Adenauer in 1964.

Part of the program was a multi-faith panel discussion that featured four speakers representing the main religions in Malaysia. While Islam is the leading religion, Christianity, Buddism and Hinduism are also practiced.

The panel speaker who was invited to represent Islam was Encik Khalid Jaafar, who is currently the Executive Director for the Institute for Policy Research, funded by the Malaysian government. Jaafar provided views on Islam that could only be considered offensive at the very least. He informed the participants that apostasy (Murtad) is permissible in Islam and justified his position by invalidating the Hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) which specifically penalises apostasy. Furthermore, on the concept of Heaven and Hell in Islam, Jaafar propagated the view that Hell will eventually cease to exist as the Mercy of Allah is so overwhelming that Hell will freeze over on the Day of Reckoning!

The question is why would the organizers of this conference bring individuals in that misrepresent Islam when there are plenty of qualified Muslims from groups like Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (JAKIM) or Pan Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) who are better versed to provide the official government position on matters concerning Islam?

One has to wonder if this is the same tactic that the British government has used in recent times by embracing the Sufi Council of Britain, a fringe sect of Islam, who are putty in the hands of British authorities and have no definitive position on Muslims in Britain. While Downing Street can point and say they have Muslim representation, the majority of British Muslims are Sunnis who are now completely marginalized.

Young Malaysia has a tremendous opportunity to set the example to the Muslim world but it won’t do it by throwing peanuts to special interest groups or weakening the religion of Islam through innovation or misrepresentation. Either Malaysia is a Muslim country or it is not and its time to get the matter before the highest levels of government. With elections due next year, this is a perfect time to embrace those who walk the straight path and present the whole picture of Islam, including Islamic law, and send the innovators packing.

The Malaysian government can not hold the obvious racial divisions at bay by reinventing Islam and it is Islam alone that will bring a just and fair government that all Malaysians deserve.

By Lah, for Bush

Bush Praises Malaysia In Fight Against Terrorism

From Jackson Sawatan

SYDNEY, Sept 7 (Bernama) -- United States President George Bush has hailed counter-terrorism efforts by nations in the Asia-Pacific, saying that they have made a difference in the fight against terrorism.

Nations in the region, he said, were increasing regional cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

"Malaysia and the United States have established a regional counter-terrorism training centre in Kuala Lumpur. There are law enforcement training centres in Jakarta and Bangkok that are improving the capabilities of security forces from across this region," he told the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Business Summit at the Sydney Opera House, here.

The Asia-Pacific nations are also working to defeat what he called "terrorists' hateful ideology".

"In Malaysia, Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad) Badawi is working to promote what he calls Islam Hadhari or Civilisational Islam. He has called on his fellow Malaysians to show by example that a Muslim country can be modern, democratic and tolerant, and economically competitive.

"In Lebanon, forces from Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea and China are serving as part of the United Nations force that's helping to bring stability to a free nation that is threatened by radical regimes and terrorist violence," said the US President.

Bush described Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and the Abu Sayyaf group as the two most dangerous terrorist networks in the region which should be defeated with a clear strategy.

He said that "we must do everything we can" to bring terrorists to justice.

He praised the efforts by nations in the region including the capture of top JI operative Hambali in 2003 as well as the other leaders of the group. In the Philippines, the operation against Abu Sayyaf had also led to the killing of the group's top leader.

"Pressure keeps the terrorists on the run, and when on the run, we're safer. We must be determined, we must be focused, and we must not let up."

Bush also mentioned efforts by nations in the region in providing economic assistance to struggling communities where terrorists operate.

"The reason we do this is we want to strengthen moderate leaders and give citizens in these communities alternatives to the path of radicalism and violence.

"For example, in Indonesia the government is working with the United States to implement a US$157 million initiative to improve basic education in 1,500 public and private schools," he said.

But in the long-term, said Bush, the best way to bring peace was to defeat terrorists in the battle of ideas.

"Our enemies are followers of a violent and narrow ideology. They have a vision which is narrow because it despises freedom, rejects tolerance and crushes all dissent. And they have goals. They want to impose this ideology as far and wide as possible," he added.

Masihkah kau lupa...

Gambar-gambar di bawah diciluk dari blog Husin Lempoyang saudagar unta. Cik Gu Nazir Khan kata cerita-cerita macam ni dah basi (Tu dia! Sampai orang kata dah basi. Rasa-rasanya Lah sorang saja kot yang tak percaya, tak tahu, tak sedar dan tak ingat tentang hobinya). Tapi saya bubuh jugak di sini. Sebab di sini kan koleksi untuk Lah.... Kan?

Di Satu Majlis Bersama Dato' Azalina Othman dan Dato' Zul Hasnan bin Rafique

Nasib baik gelap tak nampak orang ...

Kacau Saja Flash Camera!

Resah Dato Zul hasnan .. Dahlah boss macam tu, Dato Azalina pun terikut.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Rafidah spoils future Perth vacations Lah!

SYDNEY: Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz has yet to arrive here to attend the annual meeting with her Asia Pacific colleagues, but her criticism of Australia for promoting a climate change agenda at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit this weekend has irked Canberra.

The International Trade and Industry Minister has warned Australia, which is backed by the United States, against putting climate change at the top of the agenda of the summit as Apec is not the right forum.

A spokesman for Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, Malcolm Cole, was dismissive of Rafidah’s remarks.

“I don’t know if the Malaysian Trade Minister will be the be-all and end-all,” Cole was quoted in The Australian newspaper yesterday.

Ironically, Rafidah will only attend the Apec ministerial retreat tomorrow and return home the same day.

The ministerial level meeting begins today, preceding the leaders’ summit.

Malaysian officials are keeping mum on why she will be here for less than 24 hours and it is understood the host country was unhappy with her move to cut her visit short.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will arrive for the summit on Saturday.

The Apec summit includes Australia and the United States, which have refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol setting greenhouse emission targets for developed countries, claiming it unfairly punished energy-rich countries like Australia, a major coal exporter.

Host Australian Prime Minister John Howard said over the weekend that the Kyoto Protocol was dead in the water and hoped to steer this week’s summit towards a new consensus among advanced and developing countries in the region.

According to a leaders' declaration draft on climate change, leaders will agree on cuts to energy use by at least 25% of 2005 levels, by 2030.

However, anything agreed by Apec is not necessarily binding on members.

Howard, facing the general election soon and battling dwindling support in opinion polls, has been accused of using Apec to boost his image.

The Australian media have been front-paging news poll surveys that Howard was way behind opposition leader Kevin Rudd.

Meanwhile, Abdullah, who will be here until Monday, will hold separate meetings with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and US Chamber of Commerce president Thomas Donohue. (The Star)
Ohh, Abdullah will arrive for the summit on Saturday. What will he say? Or rather , what will he do? No, no, dont ever think he will sleep.

Interesting posting from Fuiyoh! Malaysia:

Macam ada yang tidak kena ? AAB takut nak bersemuka.. rasa macam
nak lari ke Australia.

Menguap dalam majlis perkara biasa

Kalau tidak tidor dalam majlis.. bukan lah AAB. Sudah trademark
pemimpin kaki tidor.

Isteri imam hadhari menadah tangan....
ops bukan tadah tetapi menyembah doa.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Bukan cakap-cakap bodoh

Radzi pernah marah-marah mengenai satu tindakan bodoh. Hari ini, saya yakin Radzi tidak cakap bodoh. Majulah Singapura!

KANGAR, 4 Sept (Bernama) -- Pelaksanaan Wilayah Ekonomi Koridor Utara (NCER) dan Wilayah Pembangunan Iskandar (WPI) perlu dimanfaatkan sepenuhnya oleh rakyat Malaysia bagi mengawal pengimportan warga asing, kata Menteri Hal Ehwal Dalam Negeri Datuk Seri Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad hari ini.

Beliau berkata NCER dan WPI akan menjadi pencetus ekonomi terbesar dan secara tidak langsung ia akan menyediakan pelbagai peluang pekerjaan yang akan turut memikat kehadiran warga asing.

Ketika ditemui pemberita selepas merasmikan majlis sambutan bulan kebangsaan peringkat parlimen Kangar di sini hari ini, Mohd Radzi berkata beliau amat berharap penduduk di wilayah pembangunan bersiap sedia melengkapi diri dengan kemahiran tertentu supaya program yang dilaksanakan kerajaan itu dapat dimanfaatkan dengan sempurna.

Sebelum itu, beliau menyertai kira-kira 100 peserta konvoi Jalur Gemilang bermotosikal melalui lima kawasan dewan undangan negeri dalam kawasan parlimen Kangar iaitu Indera Kayangan, Bintong, Kayang, Kuala Perlis dan Sena.

Beliau turut melawat pameran auto yang menyaksikan kreativiti pemilik pelbagai jenis kenderaan menghiasi kenderaan mereka selain pameran motosikal antik.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Unfit to lead

Dr M Bakri Musa

After nearly four years as Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has clearly demonstrated that he is not fit to lead the nation. He does not have what it takes to hold the nation’s top post; he must be relieved of his office.

The man is too incompetent to be even aware of his own incompetence. His trademark answer to every serious query is a plaintive, “I dunno!” There is not even a hint of embarrassment on his part, or the desire and curiosity to find out. Truly revealing!

Consider this latest blunder: As Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Abdullah is blissfully unaware of the RM5 billion blunder now unfolding at the Port Klang Free Zone project. If he is not aware (much less on top) of that impending financial implosion, chances are he is unable to comprehend the wider and more treacherous economic ramifications. Abdullah is instead riled up over some sophomoric rap rendition of the national anthem. Small mind, trivial preoccupation!

His election promises of 2004 turned out to be nothing more than the typical politician’s empty words, a cruel hoax perpetrated upon trusting citizens. For all his talk about greater transparency and combating corruption, it is nothing more than, to put it in the vernacular, “cock talk!” Under his “leadership,” all these are now much worse. His overly displayed public piety and religiosity are obviously for show only, as he is not fearful of Allah for having not kept his promises to the people.

He is consumed with the expensive trappings of his office, with luxury corporate jets ready to fly him and his family all over the globe. It is amazing how fast this kampong imam from Kepala Batas, a backwater of modern Penang, is acquiring the extravagant taste of the jet set, all at public expense of course.

Those closest to him personally and politically are serving their selfish interests in indulging his fantasy, or more correctly, daydream. The old man can hardly keep himself awake!

Unfortunately, it is the nation that is bearing the terrible consequences. The longer he stays, the heavier will be the burden, and costlier the price. We are now close to the point where the damages wrecked by this man would be irreversible. We cannot risk such a fate; the time for action is now!

This is a sobering thought, a definite damper on the current joyous mood in celebrating our 50th anniversary of Merdeka. Fortunately, despite Malaysia’s short history, the nation is sufficiently rooted in democratic principles and practices that it could effect leadership change without resorting to unconstitutional means.

There is little to learn from other Third World countries, with their predilection for assassinations, military coups, and other unsavory methods, in getting rid of ineffective leaders. Those who grab power are by nature ruthless and not likely to give it up willingly. Consequently, the end result is invariably much worse. However, considering Abdullah’s current sorry ineptness, such a scene is difficult to imagine for Malaysia.

Malaysia once suspended its constitution, following the May 1969 riot. That was in response to an emergency, when the dangers and damages were physical and thus readily comprehended by the citizens. Consequently there was general consensus to a rule by decree.

Today’s dangers are more subtle and insidious, but the consequences could be even more catastrophic. The nation is being lulled into irreversible mediocrity, condemned to perpetual third-rate status.

Another major factor to the acceptance of the 1969 Emergency Rule was that we knew who would be taking over: the able and decisive Tun Razak. Malaysians had faith in the man’s ability and integrity. They were not wrong. A few years later with law and order established, Razak re-instituted parliament and voluntarily gave up his dictatorial power. To this day, his action remains the rare exception; the general rule is for dictators to cling on to power until they die naturally, get killed, or are ousted.

I also do not think it necessary to strain the constitution with, for example, the King exercising his power to remove the Prime Minister. That would create a dangerous precedent. Besides, Abdullah is just not worth a constitutional crisis.

Tips From the First World

While the Third World cannot offer us lessons on changing leaders orderly outside of elections, we can learn from the First World. Even hitherto able leaders could be removed without compromising constitutional or democratic principles. Britain’s Tony Blair is a recent example.

Blair led his Labor Party to three successive electoral victories. Yet when he overreached and joined Bush in invading Iraq, a few of his ministers resigned in protest. That in turn emboldened Blair’s challenger, Gordon Brown.

While former Prime Minister Mahathir admitted to making a colossal mistake in appointing Abdullah, Malaysia should not and cannot be held hostage to the mistake of one man. There is no reason to be fatalistic or just sit back and suffer the consequences. While Mahathir is trying hard to undo his mistake, the primary responsibility in ridding Abdullah ultimately falls on the citizens collectively, not on any one person no matter how eminent and influential he or she may be.

That said, a single individual – even one of no particular distinction – can often initiate and effect significant change. Again referring to May 1969, it was one man who initiated the process that eventually led to Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman leaving. The Tunku was a much-revered leader, the “Father of Independence,” yet the one man instrumental in Tunku’s downfall was a defeated government backbencher.

A defeated candidate normally would have little clout, yet there was Mahathir able to effect seismic changes in the nation’s leadership with his now famous letter to the Tunku demanding that he quit.

Easing Abdullah Out

The most effective way to disabuse Abdullah of his delusion and puncture his leadership fantasy would be for his ministers to have a vote of no confidence in him. That would be dramatic, but unlikely to happen. As some of his ministers are also leaders of the component parties, such an action could split the coalition and risk paying the ultimate price: defeat at the general elections.

A more practical reason for this not happening is that his ministers are more followers than leaders. There are no jantans in the cabinet, only jantan wannabes. They were appointed not for their leadership qualities or executive talent but for their ability to grovel to and humor the leader of the day.

Recently in an unprecedented move, the entire non-Muslim ministers except one (he was abroad at the time) wrote the Prime Minister to express their displeasure over the increasing Islamization of his administration. They quickly backed down when UMNO hound dogs snarled back. That again reflected the spinelessness of these ministers.

Nonetheless their subtle message – they do not have confidence in Abdullah – was delivered. The only problem was that everyone missed that too subtle a message.

As an aside, although I share their concerns I condemned those ministers’ action. Far from challenging Abdullah, they merely exacerbated the Muslim/non-Muslim divide. They would have been far more effective had they acted individually, and backed their words with actions, as with resigning and taking their party out of the coalition. That would have startled Abdullah enough to wake him up. His hound dogs in UMNO Youth would be too rattled to spring into action. It might even embolden a few UMNO ministers to do their part and trigger a soft in-house coup.

Do not however, expect a Malaysian Gordon Brown, ready and able to take over. Brown had proven himself formidable as Chancellor of the Exchequer, a more than worthy successor, while Abdullah’s deputy, Najib Razak, carries considerable political and personal baggage. More than likely, the change process would also consume him.

When President Nixon was threatened with impeachment over the Watergate crisis, senior leaders of his party was able to persuade him to resign and thus spare the nation a constitutional crisis. Unfortunately UMNO is bereft of senior leaders with stature. Musa Hitam in theory would be a prime candidate, but since getting his Tunship, Musa is so beholden to Abdullah that he (Abdullah) can now do no wrong.

One leader (apart from Mahathir) who could tell Abdullah to his face would be Tengku Razaleigh. However he would not be credible as his efforts would be viewed as self-serving: to further his own ambition of becoming Prime Minister.

Alternatively, UMNO Supreme Council could express its lack of confidence in Abdullah. With Abdullah no longer its leader, he would have to give up his office and UMNO would have to convene a leadership convention. That would open wide the field and help ensure that the party would get a more capable and credible leader.

UMNO Supreme Council is a much larger and more independent body than the cabinet. Except for the ten members appointed by and thus beholden to Abdullah, the others are voted directly by the members. They are immune to his influence except in so far as promises of ministerial and other political appointments. There would be enough members not beholden to him who could initiate a no-confidence vote. Even if it fails, it may just rattle the old man that he may decide to spend more time with his new wife.

If all else fails, voters could always teach Abdullah a lesson. If they were to give him and his party a severe thumping in the next election, that could precipitate an internal grumbling within UMNO enough to trigger an insurrection.

The next election however need not be held till May 2009. By that time the country would have become irretrievably damaged under Abdullah’s leadership, or more correctly, lack of one. Corruption would be so endemic and embedded such that the election itself would be meaningless; it would be effectively rigged. At which stage Malaysia would join the ranks of Nigeria, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe, doomed to perpetual mediocrity.

It is thus urgent that we relieve Abdullah now of his job before it is too late. We owe it to our children and grandchildren.