yesterme yesteryou yesterday

yesterme yesteryou yesterday

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Do Johoreans need Bangsa Johor?

I thought I don't want to write about the Bangsa Johor issue again as I had written about it quite a while before the whole nonsense started a few days ago.

But the debate on it seems to be getting worse.

So, I think I better write a bit to reiterate my position on it.

Well, I had made clear what I think of the concept in this post in May this year,

We are Malaysians from the state of Johor, no more, no less

As I wrote there, I don't subscribe to the concept of Bangsa Johor despite being a Johorean.

In fact, I'm against all attempts to introduce any kind of new bangsa (race).

This is what I think of the Bangsa Malaysia concept which was first popularised by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who triggered the latest debate on Bangsa Johor with his statement a few days ago,

Bangsa Malaysia bullshit

That post is the third most read of this blog so far.

For me, there are bangsa Melayu, bangsa Cina, bangsa India etc.

And they are all Malaysians irrespective of those races of theirs.

To create a bangsa Malaysia or Bangsa Johor is the same as trying to create a bangsa Singapura or bangsa Amerika.

For me it's silly.

There's really no such things in the first place - the Singaporeans and Americans know that.

Do we Malaysians really need to do otherwise by creating all these bangsa concepts?

Do we want to be like Indonesians? They have Bangsa Indonesia.

But I'm quite sure most of us don't want to be like the Indonesians.

Their country is not as good as ours, don't you think?

Otherwise, why so many of them come to work here. Some even die while smuggling themselves to come here.

As for Bangsa Johor, if it's for cheering the JDT football team, okay lah.

For fun.

But I don't think it should be promoted beyond that.

I don't think we want to also later on have Bangsa Sarawak, Bangsa Sabah, Bangsa Kelantan, Bangsa Kedah etc.

What more if those bangsa start to claim that they are superior than other Malaysians and even want their states to break off from Malaysia.

It's possible to happen, isn't it?

What will happen to Malaysia then?

This concept of Bangsa Johor was actually only being bandied out after the last general election of 2013.

I hardly heard of it before that.

Then it was followed by several controversies connected to it, including some which involved calls for Johor to separate from Malaysia.

You can just google "bangsa johor" and read stories about those controversies.

I think they were all so unnecessary.

Same as the concept itself - unnecessary.

Honestly, I'm quite embarrassed whenever my friends from other states made fun of the whole thing.

"What's wrong with you all Johoreans? Not enough bangsa in this country is it, that you want to create a new one for yourself?" one of my friends teased.

Really. I feel that Johoreans don't need a new label such as Bangsa Johor which will makes them even more distinct from their fellow Malaysians.

That's why I disagree with it.

All this while, Johor have been doing quite well without such a concept, why the need for it now?

Unless of course if by promoting that concept, Johor can really gain something out of it instead of just an empty sense of pride.

For instance, if all the Bangsa Johor people can take back the whole stretch of coastal land from Stulang to Second Link along the bank of Tebrau Straits from the mainland Chinese - then I will also join the bandwagon and declare myself a member of Bangsa Johor.

Then it will worth something real.

Otherwise, I really think it's nothing more than just a vehicle to give Johoreans a sense of false pride, the same as the Bangsa Malaysia concept which actually did nothing much to unite Malaysians.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Please let it be the Shinkansen

The tender for Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail project is out,

I had explained why I prefer the project to be designed and executed the Japanese way in this post,

I know for a fact that the Japanese are very keen to participate in the project.

I'm hoping they will be selected to help us instead of the others such as those from China or South Korea.

The Japanese are after all the best in this field.

To better understand my sentiments on this matter, please watch this half an hour NHK documentary on the Shinkansen,

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Ghani, Umno election 2000 and Sultan Iskandar

I got a bit of time at the moment between my works.

So, I would like to entertain a commentator who wrote this in my last post,

Hi Annie,
You have been singing high of TS Abdul Ghani since I first read your blog. He would have been an ideal candidate to replace current PM but he remain low profile.. I'm eager to know more from you on the why..

First, let me thank Norick for the comment.

Actually, the answer to Norick's question is simple - Ghani has retired from politics.

That's about it.

But let me tell Norick and you all some more about the guy.

It should take a whole complete book to properly explain why I'm always so full of praise of TS Abdul Ghani Othman instead of just a blog post.

But, let me try my best here.

I think it's okay to write a bit more about the former Johor MB since he is now retired from politics and not a threat to anyone still in office.

Some of my friends actually thought that Ghani had given me something, either it be land, money, etc that I'm still writing nice things about him despite him already being retired.

The truth is, the only thing personal he had ever offered to assist me was to fund an acupuncture treatment for a boy with autism.

I really appreciate his kind gesture but declined the offer.

I'm being supportive of Ghani simply because he is a good man and a good leader.

Nothing more than that.

I believe that one of the main reasons why my blogging captain Rocky put this blog on his blogroll back then was because of that.

My political views were mostly neutral before I met Ghani in person for the first time in 2001.

Ghani is not a spectacular guy. He hardly gives fiery speeches or came out with statements which could drive the public into a frenzy.

I remember a Johor-based journalist once wrote that it's easier to squeeze water out of a rock than getting Ghani to say something bombastic.

But the guy is calm and collected. And he never tolerated much nonsense.

He believes that things must be done properly.

No hanky panky, no glamour.

On top of all that, the guy is very intelligent and with vision.

Any member of the Johor Civil Service who had worked closely with him can confirmed this assessment  about  Ghani.

I was impressed of him because of all that.

Ghani is also the only Umno leader up to this point who I can say with certainty of being incorruptible.

That's because I had been observing his leadership very closely for several years and found it hard to find faults with it.

I'm not saying that the guy is perfect but I found him as clean as a politician could be.

As with any other leader, Ghani has his detractors, but throughout his 18 years as Johor MB, the only real issue which could be pinned on his personal self is the sale of the Danga Bay land to businessman Lim Kang Ho during the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s. The rest that they tried to throw at him were just garbage.

To have a better understanding of what actually happened with that Danga Bay issue, please read this speech by Ghani on the 15th anniversary of Danga Bay which was posted on the now mothballed BIGCAT blog,

KPRJ and Danga Bay

Under Ghani's leadership, Johor enjoyed a holistic approach to its development, which enabled a balanced priorities between the urban and rural areas.

Bear in mind that the rapid development as witnessed in Iskandar Malaysia till now was initiated during his leadership.

For that, please read this other post in the BIGCAT blog,

Birth of Iskandar Malaysia - for non-Johoreans

There are a lot more I wish I can write about Ghani's achievements here but as I said, if I do so, this blog post may turned into a book.

So, let me save those for other postings, okay.

On Norick's inquiry as to Ghani, being an ideal candidate for the PM's job, let me take you back to the Umno election in the year 2000.

It was the only time Ghani had shown interest to move higher up the Umno leadership when he contested the vice-president post.

Ghani was at that time riding high after leading Johor BN to a 100 per cent victory in the State during the general election the previous year.

That, despite significant losses of the coalition in other states because of the Reformasi movement, triggered by the sacking and jailing of DS Anwar Ibrahim.

Ghani received the second highest number of nominations behind DS Najib Razak among the nine candidates who contested for the three vice-president slots.

It was also the lowest point in his relationship with his Johor MB predecessor TS Muhyiddin Yassin, when he was accused of blocking his former school classmate's nomination in Johor.

Ghani had denied the allegation.

The turning point of that contest came at the very end of the nomination period when Najib, along with Muhyiddin and former Selangor MB TS Muhammad Mohd Taib received the nomination from the Kubang Pasu division, which was headed by then Umno president and PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The outcome of the Umno vice-president race 2000 was as reported by Utusan Malaysia here,

Kejutan Dalam Pemilihan Naib Presiden UMNO

I still remember at that time that even Dr Mahathir was shocked when his own division nominated Muhyiddin and Muhammad for the post, which was deemed a signal to the Umno delegates that the duo, along with Najib were the Umno president's choice.

Almost every observers that I know at that time discreetly cited one reason for the outcome - money politics.

I believe that because of that reason, Ghani never tried to contest for that post again.

He was dead against the practice of money politics and due to that he must had concluded that he would never be able to win.

I'm of the opinion, Umno would not be as messed up as it is now if Ghani had won that vice-president post instead of Muhyiddin who has now set-up Parti Pribumi Bersatu and Muhammad who had defected to Pas and now to Amanah.

I also believe that another reason as to why Ghani never tried to move up in politics from his number one post in Johor was because of a story told to me by a close aide of him.

According to the story, Almarhum Sultan Iskandar Sultan Ismail had told Ghani that he wanted Ghani to remain as Johor MB as long as he was still alive.

I was told that Sultan Iskandar's exact words to Ghani were these,

"Ghani, engkau jangan nak berangan nak pergi mana-mana selagi aku masih hidup. Duduk diam-diam kat sini. Jaga Johor ni baik-baik."

Sultan Iskandar had actually blocked two serious attempts to replace Ghani as MB, that was in 2004 and 2008.

Ghani had declined all awards which were offered to him at the Federal level or by other states when he was MB and because of that he was only addressed as just a Datuk at that time.

He did so out of respect for Sultan Iskandar because his datukship was the Johor Darjah Kerabat 1, which was rarely conferred to a commoner.

If I'm not mistaken, there are only five commoners at the moment with that title. The others are Dr Mahathir, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Sarawak's Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud and former Bank Negara governor TS Zeti Akhtar Aziz.

To understand better the relationship between Ghani and Sultan Iskandar, please read yet another post in the BIGCAT blog,

Remembering the good old man of Bukit Serene

Ghani only accepted his Tan Sri title after he retired from politics and relocated himself to KL.

Till today I find it difficult to call him Tan Sri.

So far, he doesn't seems to mind me calling him Datuk, as I always had.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Learn from Sarawak on how to appreciate talents

Had a chat last night with a friend who is an expert of Sarawak and Sabah politics.

The guy told me that the establishment in those two states is more stable than its counterpart in the Peninsular because the leaders over there are very good at spotting and appreciating talents.

For the most recent example, he said the Sarawak government had hired the services of TS Mohd Hassan Marican as its adviser in its dealing with Petronas.

Mohd Hassan was Petronas' CEO from Feb 1995 to Feb 2010. He was also Petronas' acting chairman when he left the company.

This is his profile as provided by Bloomberg :

Mr. Mohd Hassan bin Marican is a Senior International Advisor of Temasek International Advisors, a subsidiary of Temasek Holdings. Mr. bin Marican served as Chief Executive Officer and President of Petroliam Nasional Berhad (PETRONAS) since February 1995 until February 4, 2010 and its Acting Chairman until February 4, 2010. Mr. bin Marican has over 30 years' experience in audit, accounting and management. He served as Senior Vice-President of finance for the national oil company PETRONAS from 1989 to 1995 and a Partner of accounting firm 1981 Hanafiah Raslan and Mohamed (Touche Touche& Co) from to 1989. He serves as the Chairman of Singapore Power. He serves as Chairman of Pavilion Energy Pte Ltd at Temasek Holdings (Private) Limited. He serves as Chairman of Pavilion Gas and Lan Ting Holdings. He has been Chairman of Sembcorp Marine since April 22, 2014. He served as the Chairman of Engen Limited, South Africa's leading oil refining and marketing company, which is a subsidiary of Petronas. He served as Chairman of MISC Berhad until February 2010. He served as Acting Chairman of the Board of Petroliam Nasional Bhd. until February 4, 2010. He served as the Chairman of the Board of Petronas Gas Bhd from August 1, 1991 to August 15, 2008. He served as the Chairman of other public listed companies under Petronas Group, namely Petronas Dagangan Berhad from March 29, 1995 to October 2005 and Malaysia International Shipping portion Berhad. He served as Deputy Chairman of Sembcorp Marine and serves as its Director. He has been Director of Malaysia International Shipping Corp. Bhd. since October 1997. He has been a Non-Executive & Independent Director of Sembcorp Utilities (Netherlands) N.V. and SembCorp Industries Ltd. since June 16, 2010. He serves as a Director of Regional Economic Development Authority of Sarawak, Sarawak Energy, Lambert Energy Advisory and MH Marican Advisory. He serves as a Board member of Bank Negara Malaysia and a member of the Board of Malaysia-Thailand Joint Authority, which oversees petroleum development in the overlapping area between Malaysia and Thailand. He serves as a Director of International Centre for Leadership in Finance. He served as a Director of MISC Berhad since October 3, 1997 until February 10, 2010. He served as a Director of ConocoPhillips Canada Funding Company I. He served as a Non Executive Director of Engen Ltd. He served as a Non Independent & Non Executive Director of Petronas Gas Bhd until August 15, 2008. He served as Director of Petronas Dagangan Bhd. He served as Director of Petroliam Nasional Bhd. until February 4, 2010. He is an Energy Governor and the Energy Community Chairman for the World Economic Forum (WEF). He is also a member of the International Investment Council for the Republic of South Africa. He is a member of the WEF's International Business Council and Council of 100 Leaders. He is also a member of the Commonwealth Business Council. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, as well as a member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants and the Malaysian Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He holds a Honorary Doctorate from the University of Malaya.

Well, no wonder Sarawak seems to be getting the upper hand in its dealings with Petronas of late.

Mohd Hassan surely knows his stuff as far as Petronas is concerned.

The Sarawakians are very smart for getting his advise.

I wish the establishment over here in the Peninsular will get equally smart.

So far, they do not seem to be very good at spotting or even appreciating talents.

Their decisions on the matter appeared to be very much influenced by petty issues and favouritism.

There were too many examples of that.

I had seen good and talented people who were supportive of the establishment being cast aside in favour of those whose only interests and talents revolves solely around their own personal agendas.

My own significant experience in this matter was back then in Johor during preparations for the last general election in 2013.

A month before the date of GE13 was announced, PM DS Najib Razak went on a visit to Johor where part of itineraries was a briefing on Johor BN's preparations for the election.

The briefing was done by then State BN chairman and MB TS Abdul Ghani Othman.

At the end of the briefing, Najib expressed his satisfaction with what were presented and considered the preparations as being the most comprehensive as compared to those by other states.

The preparations were of course very comprehensive because they were carried out since just a few months after the 2008 general election.

Ghani was assisted by a small but dedicated team throughout months of  exhaustive visits to every corners of Johor to collect information and feedbacks as well as putting into effect measures to ensure BN's victory.

I believe that if not for those preparations, Johor which was hit hard by the Chinese tsunami of 2013 could had actually been lost to the opposition in similar fashion as Selangor due to the large number of Chinese electorates in that state.

Do bear in mind that up to 83 per cent of the Malay voters in Johor sided with BN at that time, which enabled the coalition to retain its two third majority in the state assembly despite the heavy losses in Chinese majority constituencies.

Ghani's small team which includes several experts in their respective fields was disbanded after he was no longer the MB.

Personally, I feel that it was a pity to waste the talents of that team.

They were really good and loyal to Umno and BN.

Unfortunately, not only were they not appreciated or being kept for further contributions, some were even hounded out to fend for themselves after their services were no longer needed.

It reached a point where I wrote this post just weeks after the general election in order to get a reprieve for some of the "small people" who once served Ghani at Kota Iskandar,

The eradication of Datuk Ghani 

That was one main reason why I always got frustrated with the establishment here.

There are other examples, but let me save them for other days.

Can't write too long as I need to get back to work now.


Tuesday, 23 August 2016

There should be better ways to handle Namewee's case

Do we really need to do this?

Police to get Interpol's help to locate three singers in Namewee's video clip

Or in fact, can we actually do that?

Check out this story, okay.

Obama inks Taiwan INTERPOL bid bill 

The country is only at bidding stage to be an observer of Interpol it seems.

At least that's how I understand it.

I found that just by googling.

No fancy research.

Furthermore I don't think China will let us touch those guys.

For China, Taiwan is part of it and the people of Taiwan its citizens.

No foreign interference allowed, if I'm not mistaken.

Anyway, what offences are we going to pin on those Taiwanese singers to make Interpol drag them here in the first place?

These are all so weird.

Honestly, I don't like the handling of the case at all.

In fact, I don't even like those images of Namewee being handcuffed.

Just look at this BBC headline,

Malaysian singer Namewee held for 'insulting Islam'

I know it's procedures and all but I feel that it makes us look a bit extreme.

I'm sure Namewee will not try to run away and instead cooperate with the authorities in the investigation of his music video.

Okay, the guy is a bit crazy but I feel the action taken against him was a bit harsh.

He is an artist, and artists tends to be a bit crazy.

And I think, if insulting is the offence, he and his gang actually insulted other religions too and not just Islam.

Whatever it is, the one giving him the trouble was the hacked video which he himself didn't post.

I know, many will disagree with me on this but that's alright. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

Freedom of expression is good.

In Namewee's case, he went a bit too far, I guess.

But still, the whole thing could be handled better.

Monday, 22 August 2016

A KFC dinner with a good Umno big shot

I was having a KFC dinner alone the other night when a friend and his family turned up at the place.

It was quite a pleasant surprise for me as I had not met him for quite a while.

My friend is quite a big shot at the Umno headquarters.

Yup, he still eats KFC despite being an important Umno guy and a Datuk.

His wife is also very nice and doesn't behave or even look like a Mak Datin.

I never called them Datuk and Datin.

Sounds weird to call my friends by those titles anyway.

My friend sat with me while his wife and children had their dinner at an adjoining table.

As usual, we mostly talked about politics.

His wife doesn't care much about such things.

She is a successful businesswoman and doesn't depend on her husband much for money.

I think she is even richer than her husband.

And nope, she also doesn't depend on her husband's political connections to be successful in business.

Really, I'm telling the truth about my friend and his wife.

There are indeed Umno people who are like that.

Anyway, my friend told me some latest developments in Umno's preparations for the next general election.

I can only tell you all that it's going to be much earlier than expected.

I asked him whether Umno is confident of winning and he said yes.

Reason - the opposition is in worse shape than BN.

I think he was being truthful about that.

The opposition is indeed in a mess at the moment.

Too much infighting.

And that, even when they are yet to win the election.

The earlier the general election is held, the less time for them to patch things up.

Nonetheless, my friend said there are still worries because the BN machineries are still plagued by glitches.

"Too many people are busy promoting things for their own vested interest. They spoiled everything," he said.

My friend also agrees with me that the best way to deal with Umno members who are unhappy with the leadership is not to throw them away.

"We must win back as many of them as we can," he said.

"Of course the hardcore ones have to go. Nothing much we can do about them anyway."

It was good to hear that.

So, it's not true that everyone at the top of Umno preaches that "either you are with us or against us" mantra.

I'm of the opinion that those who advocate that stupid phrase are either stupid or intentionally trying to tear Umno apart from within.

My friend also told me about how like minded Umno people such as himself are trying their best to stop others from using the party for their own personal interests.

He said it's not easy.

Well, at least now I know there are those who are still trying to do the right thing.

I wished him and his band of good Umno people all the best.

Another thing that I asked him was whether he feels that the mainstream media bosses are doing the right thing in their support for the establishment, especially in the way they harshly handled Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

My friend's face changed when I asked him that.

He then made a vulgar sign with his fingers but did so discreetly so that his wife and children didn't see it.

"Tu semua nak jaga kedudukan je," he said.

Well, what to do, everyone has to earn a living and that's all some people are good at.

My friend should know about these sorts of things.

He was in the thick of things when Pak Lah's people used the same tactic against Dr Mahathir and the outcome was the disastrous 2008 general election.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Relax, it's Saturday

Apparently, two Chinese want to pick up a fight with me today.

One is an ultra Chinese and the other a self-hating Chinese.

But today is a Saturday.

My rest day.

I'm not in the mood for such things.

By the way, I'm also quite tired of fighting.

It doesn't really add any value to my life.

So, I just want to rest.

It had been such a tiring week.

You all relax too, okay.

I recommend you all to do something relaxing but beneficial at the same time.

Such, maybe you all can consider watching this documentary about Japanese bamboo,

It's really nice and educational.

I had been to a Japanese bamboo forest.

It was on a fine autumn afternoon at a small town called Yamazaki, about 15 minutes train ride from Kyoto.

It was so peaceful there. A very memorable experience.

Eh, you all have a nice weekend, okay.

Don't fight all the time.