Wednesday, December 27, 2006

What occupies the minds of Government

What occupies the minds of Government ?

  • Poverty ?

  • Democratically elected and accountable local Government

  • Economic policies ?

  • Flood Rescue Operations ?

Guess again.

Credits to for this excellent piece of photojournalism

Close a main street, get the Police out in full force.


Minister Arrives (must be freaking hot in those suits !)


Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia Arrives

Speech on Toilets

We give you my fellow Malaysians, Toilets !!

Had Shakespeare been alive he would have loved this piece for "Much Ado over Nothing"

Sunday, December 24, 2006

We all weep for Malaysia.

The country is now ruled by little Civil Service Napeoleons with a warlord mentality.

Read on for the latest debacle on importing non-halal (kosher) food into Malaysia.

There was a time when we, Malays and non-Malays, used to eat together at the same table and we would tell our Malay friends which dish had haram material. Our Malay friends would eat and partake of everything except the proscribed dishes.
Today, I no longer invite any of my many Malay friends to my house for meals. At my annual Chap Goh Meh open house, I used to have Malay friends tucking in with gusto everything (supplied by a halal caterer) except for the “siew chee” (roast pig) that I have at a corner (with its own styrofoam plates and disposable chopsticks)
But seeing the kind of ultra-religious movement going on in the country and not wishing to impose difficult choices on my Malay friends, I no longer invite them to my house for my CGM party. So much for muhibbah and inter-racial relationship.
The current move by the civil service started some weeks ago when we started hearing complaints from food importers that some civil servants are starting their own agenda of not permitting the entry into the country of non-halal meat and true enough, when Christmas beckoned, the supplier of my Christian friend’s annual turkey could not promise my friend his annual bird, which, to him, is an important ingredient of his annual celebration linked to a religious event.
I alerted a few influential people like Blogger Jeff Ooi and Dato Wong Chun Wai, a top honcho in the MCA-controlled paper, The Star. Dato Wong was chosen because he is a staunch Christian who would understand the significance of the roast turkey to the Christians and whom I figured has the ears of the top echelon of decision-makers and would, in the normal course of things, warn his political masters that “something is rotten in the state of …..” (with apologies to Shakespeare)
Alas, the Malay civil servants had their way, unchecked and almost unnoticed. When pressed by harbour-masters with problems of ships lying expensively in port with unloaded consignment of frozen turkey, they took the initiative and labelled the meat “non-halal” ( a grey area between halal and haram) and now their fellow civil servants at Jakim has got into the act, warning all and sundry the perils of serving “non-halal” (read as HARAM) meat at their establishments. (and they have plenty of back-ups by way of healthinspections by MoH officials, licensing checks by the local authorities, etc etc). No hotels would dare incur the wrath of the Malay Civil Servant.
The religion-orientated agenda of the Malay civil servants and their obsequious (and I think, maybe blind and deaf like the three monkeys “hear no evil, see no evil”) political ‘masters’ mean a slow but steady erosion of the rights and privileges of others who are not Muslims. Today, I cannot have a “bacon and egg English breakfast” at Shangri-la or the Concorde; tomorrow, I fear I cannot order a beer at these places (not that I can easily afford drinks at such outrageous prices in these establishments).
This country belongs to all of us, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Why, why, why must I (and millions like me) conform to all the religious requirements of the Muslims in more and more aspects of my life??? and I don’t even believe that there is a God because my concept of a God is an omnipotent and omni-benevolent Being that would not support, condone nor nurture the oppression of others in the name of God.
When are we, ordinary Malaysian citizens, going to start getting worried that our society is getting more and more oppressive.
Malaysia, I weep for thee

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Sentenced to Jail for 16 years, not by the Court

Here, you can go to jail for 16 years ! Without due process of the law. Just because a civil servant thinks you need to go to Jail.
"I was falsely imprisoned in West Malaysia, not by a court of law but because a civil servant in the IRB issued the directive to have my passport impounded on Dec 17, 1981 and refused to hear me out despite my pleas," he said." Here's the full story.

KUALA LUMPUR: For 16 years Ronald Beadle, a British national, has felt that he had been "wrongly imprisoned" in Peninsular Malaysia.The Inland Revenue Department (now Inland Revenue Board) had directed the police and Immigration Department to seize his British passport in 1982. He was alleged to have owed the IRB RM22,778.70 when he left employment as the director of operations of SEA Helicopter Sdn Bhd. However, the employer had deducted RM27,943 from his salary to pay the IRB but failed to remit it.

Beadle (picture) told the High Court yesterday that his problems started when the company’s managing director absconded in 1981 and the company was wound up in 1983.Beadle said he took IRB to court but lost his case in the Sessions Court. He won the appeal in the High Court on Feb 17, 1998 when the judge ruled that he need not pay the amount to the government. The High Court also ruled that the action taken by the defendants in seizing Beadle’s passport was wrong, negligent and a breach of statutory duty.But, Beadle’s predicament did not end there. The Sentul police station, which held Beadle’s passport, misplaced it. Yesterday was the first day of hearing in Beadle’s nearly RM3 million suit against the IRB, the government and Hamzah H.M. Saman, the former director-general of IRD.

Testifying before Judicial Commissioner Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, Beadle, 68, at times broke down when he reminisced about the time he was in the country and the treatment he had received."I was falsely imprisoned in West Malaysia, not by a court of law but because a civil servant in the IRB issued the directive to have my passport impounded on Dec 17, 1981 and refused to hear me out despite my pleas," he said.When asked by his counsel, Jeffrey Wong, to describe what he had suffered, he said: "Nothing can ever describe my circumstances, the state of my mind or well-being during the dreadful 5,968 days of false imprisonment. "When my passport was seized by the police, it caused me worry, stress, anxiety, mental anguish, distress and a feeling of helplessness. "On many occasions, the stress became so great that I had to go out and get completely drunk.

"Throughout the 16-year period, he was not able to visit his ailing father, who died in 1993. Beadle came to Malaysia on Sept 9, 1961 when he was with the British army, serving in the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers, to support the fight against communist insurgents.

Beadle married Malaysian Chan Cheng Wah in 1963 and they have an adopted daughter, Cindy Wai Mun Beadle.He began working with SEA Helicopters in 1972. After the tax-free salary provision ended in 1977, he paid income tax from 1977 until he resigned on Dec 31, 1980."SEA Helicopters deducted my salary to pay the income tax but it failed to remit it to the IRB," he said. "I left SEA Helicopters to help form six companies and I was the managing director of some of them."Beadle became emotional when asked whether he had any intention of leaving the country. "I have a Malaysian wife and an adopted Malaysian daughter. I applied for permanent resident status as it was my intention to retire in Malaysia as my family is here. "I would love to come back to Malaysia and stay here permanently." This country is my home. I have spent more than half of my life here. "If my British passport had not been taken by the Malaysian police, I could have gone to western Europe or the United States to work and support my family in Malaysia," he said. Following the 1998 High Court decision, Beadle obtained a European Union passport and left Malaysia. Beadle is seeking RM2.9 million for loss of income, as well as general and exemplary damages and other relief deemed fit by the court.

Senior Federal Counsel Maheran Mohd Isa is representing the defendants.

To Mr. Beadle,
My most sincere and heatfelt sympathies to you and your family. It is my fervent hope that you will receive a favourable decision of what is rightfully yours.
It has been too long now that this country has been run by bigots who have no qualms to dishing out inhumane treatments to his fellow countrymen. Not to mention foreigners.

We would like to express our gratitude for your service in the Military and the Emergency.
Undoubtedly, the defendants have denied the claims. It will be interesting to see whether the Rule of Law still exist in this country.
To those self-serving, holier-than-thou bigots. I hope you have an eternity in hell to reflect.

The Police Force reports to me, but don't ask me to prevent crime

This is what Malaysian's get.
Rise in crime rate and an irresponsible and non-accountable reply. What's new, or rather will it ever change ?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

What if Christians pay less tax than Catholics ?

Imagine this scenario, Christians will pay ZERO income tax and Catholics pay the bulk of income tax. To rub it in, both will not only continue to enjoy the same benefits accorded to tax payers, but Christians will enjoy more benefits !

Imagine this scenario.
Of course this is a fictitious scenario. Any nation implementing this policy will quickly go bankrupt, as the majority of their taxes are channeled to non-State resources. Coupled this with the fact that the majority of the tax payers contribute to non-State coffers, yet enjoy State benefits and services.

But, in Malaysia, this is true, almost.
Muslims, in Malaysia deduct the amount they donate to zakat (a form of Islamic donation, akin to "alms") from their payable taxes.

I reproduce here a wikipedia entry

In Malaysia, there is an income tax. Money paid to "zakat" or the obligatory alm Muslims must give to the poor reduces the tax to be paid while money paid to other religions under similar circumstances is not given similar treatment:
It reduces tax only if the particular beneficiary has obtained such status from the government, which is difficult in practice. Even then, if money is donated to a non-Muslim religion it is only deducted from the income on which the amount of tax is based, while zakat is deducted from the amount of tax itself.
For example, suppose a person earning RM 50,000 owes a tax of RM 3,000, and donates RM 1,000 to his religion. If he were non-Muslim he would then adjust his assessed income to RM 49,000.
If he were Muslim then he would only have to pay RM 2,000 as the RM 1,000 would be deducted from the amount owed

Bear in mind, that Muslims enjoy benefits accorded to them from the State, contributed jointly in a 'secular fashion' by non-Muslims and Muslims tax-payers alike.
However, in the crazy world of Malaysia, Muslims not only pay the least tax, they gobble up the lion's share of State resources in the form of subsidies, free education, uncompetitive state contracts, bail-outs for failed projects and almost every form of assistance.

Does this even compute ?
You contribute little, you take away even more from the coffers. Is this economically sustainable ? Only time will tell.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

We can do no wrong !

Did I mention that the prevailing mindset of Malaysian 'civil service' is we can do no wrong ?

Courageous samaritan was harrased by Hospital authorities as she reveals their incompetence.

No public apologies. It's easier to cover this up and continue with the agenda of a non-accountable civil service. Hardly a 'civilised' country.

Again, from Lim Kit Siang's blog
Zara Davies Abdul Rahman – the public-spirited and courageous businesswoman and mother-of-five – the central figure in the scandal over the completely avoidable and unnecessary death of accident victim, road-sweeper Mohd Yusry near the Batu Tiga toll booth on Wednesday – has received an intimidating call from the Klang Hospital authorities.

It is most deplorable that instead of expressing appreciation for Zara’s public-spiritedness, she is being subject to harassment. I am sure Malaysians will not allow this to happen.
I will be following the development of the case closely and the Klang Hospital authorities must be forewarned that their every action and reaction will be subject to the most intense public scrutiny.

I have received the following email from a doctor, who reveals such a deplorable state of affairs about hospital and hospital ambulance services that immediate action is required of the Health Minister, Datuk Dr. Chua Soi Lek. If the Health Ministry does not track this blog, I will forward the following email when I return from Bintulu on Sunday:

What goes around comes around.

This is hardly an approriate title, but drastic words are required for a drastic state of affairs.
For an entire generation, the official stance of Malaysian public service is not for 'civil service', but for "social reengineering". Hence, any semblance of public accountability is given scant attention as appointments are largely race-based (in the name of affirmative action).

An entire generation was raised with this mindset, that there's no need to be accountable, there's no need to work for a living, there's no need to explain, we cannot be wrong and we cannot be questioned.

Today, someone's son, brother and friend died due to this civil service incompetence.
I reproduce the following report from Lim Kit Siang's blog.

Let me remind you, not a single Government official has commented on this sad situation nor made any apologies or any public announcement on improvements. A good annoucement for that week will be a toll increase on Malaysian highways

It is a long story, but here's the gist :
  • He dialed 999, itrang until it could not ring anymore. He rang again, again it was not answered, he rang again and passedthe phone to me. Finally someone answered (a man).
  • I told him the injuries of the victim hoping he would feel the urgency, instead he wanted to know whether “dia jatuh motor ke…?” (translated : "did he fall of a moped") I told him politely that his question is completely irrelevant and hurry up with the ambulance plus I have to hang up and attend to the victim.
  • I waited and called the emergency control center atKlang Hospital at 2.36pm and asked the same guy if anambulance had been dispatched, same answer, “belum”. (translated : "not yet")
  • When we arrived at Klang Hospital I had a hard time looking for the staff to bring a trolley to remove the victim from the car. I asked for assistance from two nurses but did not receive a response. I took a trolley and pushed it to the car, suddenly a hospital aide appeared, then another, as we tried to remove the victim's body from the car, it was then that the co-worker who had been cradling the victim in the cars aid that he has stopped breathing.
  • I approached him and asked if he was the person who took my calls, he knew my name and I asked him for his, he declined. I asked him why he did not dispatch an ambulance to which he replied something brash
  • I asked him if he was happy as the victim was unnecessarily dead and that I am going to ensure tha this lackadaisical attitude to his job was brought to the public attention. I asked him for his name again along with the nurse who was sitting next to him“playing” with the computer

This now is the complete post.

On the 13th of December 2006, at approx 1.30pm a roadtraffic accident involving a driver driving a dark blue proton saga and a highway road sweeper of Malay descent, male, approx mid 20s (the road accident victim).
The location of the accident was about 150 – 200meters from the Batu Tiga toll booth, elite highway inthe direction towards KLIA.
I chanced upon this accident which had just happened while on my way back to work (Ampang via KESAS).

As I approached the accident site it seemed the victim was already dead, the driver who had knocked him down was standing near-by and nobody dared approach to lend assistance to the victim, almost as if this was one time were an invasion of privacy was taboo.
I stopped my vehicle and approached, upon examining the accident victim I found him to be still alive but heavily concussed, his pupils were completely dilated.

Suddenly the victim grabbed my hand and tried with all his might to raise himself to his feet. I tried to calm him and asked by-standers if an ambulance had been called. I was told it had not.
In a firm tone I told the driver of the car that hit the victim to call for an ambulance. He dialed 999, it rang until it could not ring anymore. He rang again, again it was not answered, he rang again and passed the phone to me. Finally someone answered (a man).

I informed him that I am reporting an accident a few hundred meters away from the Batu Tiga Toll in thedirection of KLIA. He asked me my phone number and myname and which hospital was nearest. I gave the info and added that the nearest hospital to deal with this kind of trauma is probably Klang.
At 1.57pm I received a call from 03 3371 7989 the ambulance control center at Klang Hospital. The guy incharge of the control center asked to speak to me and asked for the location of the accident, which I gave adding that the victim was dying and that this was an extreme emergency.
The guy manning the control center did not know my location, so I repeated it clearly and concisely. It seemed that he needed to understand it for himself otherwise he could not pass on the information anddispatch the ambulance. It was a frustrating conversation. I repeated the details of my location and he asked me if I was sure that Klang was the nearest hospital. I repeated firmly, yes!

I told him the injuries of the victim hoping he would feel the urgency, instead he wanted to know whether“dia jatuh motor ke…?” I told him politely that his question is completely irrelevant and hurry up withthe ambulance plus I have to hang up and attend to thevictim.
I called back at 2.06pm to ask if an ambulance had been dispatched. The same guy told me “belum”. He asked me the same questions…I answered them.
I warned him that the next time I make a call will beto the Menteri Besar’s office to complain about his shoddy professionalism, so he’d better send out that ambulance immediately. I called Salamat Dollah at2.08pm and he helped call Klang Hospital on my behalf to request they send out an ambulance immediately.
I waited and called the emergency control center at Klang Hospital at 2.36pm and asked the same guy if anambulance had been dispatched, same answer, “belum”.
He requested me to repeat the accident location again which I did.

This time I told him that he need not understand it just write it down and give it to the ambulance driver along with my hp number.
I waited again. The victim was rolling in pain on the road, his head had a gash about 10cm long on the backof his head, the skin on his head was beginning to peel off. His left leg was completely broken and hanging by the flesh but the main artery was not severed, he was not loosing much blood. His workmate was cradling him in his arms and asking him to mengucap kalimah syahadah.
I tried to stop further damage to his left leg bysecuring it to his right leg. I told the few people around that he is going to die if we don’t get him tohospital. Everyone was reluctant to put him in there car, all kinds of excuses… ada barang, kotor la,berdarah la… Meanwhile the victim was grabbing on to my clothes and body in pain, unable to talk possibly due to his head injury.
Finally the driver who knocked him down allowed us to use his car to send the victim to the hospital. But he was too shaken-up to drive. Another gentleman offered to drive but did not know how to exit the Elite highway to get towards Klang Hospital. I asked him to follow me and so we drove off as fast as we could head towards USJ - Federal Highway – Klang. We had to go through so many toll gates, some paying, some after explaining briefly, let us through.
On the Federal Highway despite our attempts to notify motorist that we were in a state of emergency many blocked our path and only relented to give way when I practically sat on my car horn.
We arrived in Klang and I called the emergency control center guy for directions to the hospital. I was by this time quite distressed and pronounced the name of the hospital wrongly. The guy in the control center told me there was no such hospital in Klang, so I said to him. “Have you sent out an ambulance to the Batu Tiga toll accident site ? No, right? So since you cannot understand were the accident is we are sending the victim to you. This is an emergency can you give me directions to your hospital or not??”

Finally he did.

When we arrived at Klang Hospital I had a hard timelooking for the staff to bring a trolley to remove the victim from the car. I asked for assistance from two nurses but did not receive a response. I took a trolley and pushed it to the car, suddenly a hospital aide appeared, then another, as we tried to remove the victims body from the car, it was then that the co-worker who had been cradling the victim in the car said that he has stopped breathing.
The hospital aides rushed the victim into the A&E room and I followed, as he was wheeled in there was no immediate response from the doctors, it was obvious this young man with his whole life ahead of him had died in the car on the way to the hospital.
I was so angry, my words were simple – “Kecuaian pihak hospital menghantar ambulance membantu mangsa ini telah mengecewakan rakyat.”
The aide asked me to be calm. How could any human being be calm when face with such stupidity and total lack of regard for human life? The aide showed me the IC and asked me to confirm if this was the victim. I confirmed. I briefly saw the name Mohd Yusry and his age was somewhere in his mid- twenties.
As I walked away from the A&E room in disgust I saw the control center. A guy was sitting in it with a female nurse looking at a computer (very close and comfy).
I approached him and asked if he was the person who took my calls, he knew my name and I asked him for his, he declined. I asked him why he did not dispatch an ambulance to which he replied something brash.
I asked him if he was happy as the victim was unnecessarily dead and that I am going to ensure thathis lackadaisical attitude to his job was brought to the public attention. I asked him for his name again along with the nurse who was sitting next to him“playing” with the computer. He refused to give it to me. Feeling very frustrated I called Salamat Dollah and informed him that regretfully the road accident victim a young Malay man had died in the car on the way to the hospital and that no ambulance had been dispatched.
This is not the first time I have called for an ambulance and used the 999 services. Every time I have called for an ambulance it has never arrived, never. Why??
This is the first road accident victim I have helped who has actually died. Everyone else I have helped before this has survived.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Does my Country Love me ?

Do I love Malaysia ?

My late father retired from the Civil Service in 1989, on his retirement date his last drawn salary was RM1500.00. Not exactly a princely sum in 1989. He has long been passed-over for new appointments and promotions in favour of his younger and, of course Bumiputera colleagues.

The following year, I was accepted into a local University, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and the Australian National University based on my STPM and GCE English 1119 ‘O’ Levels results.

It was an obvious decision for me, albeit a financial one. I would go to the local one for my degree

For a full 4 years, I have applied for every Government (JPA) and Perak State scholarship available. Not a single one came back with any response. Had my father’s service to the Government been in vain ? Whilst, every single Bumiputera student in around me had their education financed fully, if not one but with multiple scholarships.

My parents, especially my father, had to scrimp and save to put me through tertiary education. My father literally was still working, through the years he was fighting prostate cancer and till the eve of his death.

To add salt to injury, my tertiary education was literally sub-standard. Some of my lecturers were notably outstanding and these were the ones who had inspired me academically. Predominantly, it was a full 4 years of one uninspiring lecturer after another. Some of the Professors could not converse in English, lectures were conducted, rather regurgitated in a mixture of half-baked translatation of Bahasa Malaysia and basic English. To me, the saving grace for this particular university was its excellent library facilities and almost unrivalled collection of books and scientific journals. Predominantly written in the English language.

In my flailing effort to maintain a sense of dignity through these conditions, I quickly immersed myself in the collection of within the library, pushing myself way ahead of what the university lectures and the official curriculum had to offer. It was not a matter of graduating anymore, it has grown into a personal vendetta of the little man to maintain the dignity and sacrifices of his parents and the values his La Sallian teachers have imparted to him.

In this month of August as we celebrate our 49th Merdeka Day, I asked myself. “Do I love Malaysia ?” The answer is a resounding “Yes, I do.” I had to, as it is who I am. To not love the country of my birth and my parents’ ; would be a disgrace to my parents and to everyone who have made me who I am.

Today, 12 years on, by the Grace of God, my family and I are happily settled in the United States and gainfully employed. I have long left Malaysian shores in the hope my children will not have to stoop as low as his father and grandfather did.

To Rose (, you have no idea what Dignity really is. Treasure what you have, for such artificial accord of Dignity is s indeed heaven sent.

To Dignified (, I sympathise and feel for you; you and I are not alone, millions of our non-Bumiputra brethren’s through 2 generations share your pain and your quest for human dignity.

As a closing note, I ask myself, “Does my country love me ?”

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Is this not heartfelt enough

Repost from Lim Kit Siang's blog, based on an email he received.

Having lived abroad for almost two years, I have been always proud of my home country, Malaysia. The moment someone knows that you are from Malaysia, the immediate response would be ‘it’s a great country what are you doing here’.
My usual response would be, just to gain experience or for exposure.
But deep, down inside my heart, I never wanted to leave my home, my family, childhood friends, the mamak stall the every single thing that we Malaysians uniquely enjoy It never hit me that after 49 years of independence we are still not ‘Malaysians’. If you are not a Bumiputra then, you are Indian, or Chinese with a Malaysian Passport.
We don’t want to admit, or rather the leaders who supposedly are a role model to the public, fail to acknowledge the fact that the layman on the street are beginning to look at each other as strangers. This is the direct result of the so called role models, who are busy fanning who’s the Boss syndrome.
Everyone wants to be in control, The Prime Minister had to publicly declare that he is in control, is he in control? , only time will tell.
The situation gets worsen day by day. Young leaders, armed with nothing but sheer arrogance are instilling fear for respect and applause. Political parties fail to address the issue; the ‘YES SIR’ attitude and fear of losing popularity are stopping them even to ask questions. The opposition cries and wails but, who is hearing them, Big Brother is watching everything we speak, write, hear or act.
What options do we have? Vote for the opposition? Will it change the whole scenario? The opposition in Malaysia has never been tested, though they have been fire fighting all this while. Will they be able to bring change or will it be the same situation again.
Only time will tell. I don’t want to be known as an Indian Malaysian, I want to be known as a Malaysian. I want my children to be judged based on their academic performances, not by quota, my business to flourish because of my hard work and not because of my connections, to be able to read, write and speak my mind and not be restricted, to be able to buy a property because I can afford it, to be given equal opportunity to work and be judged based on my talents and capabilities.
Is it too much to ask?

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Blatant Corruption

I like this post on
Like I said, the country 'encourages' corruption.

Contractors RM600 mil windfall blatant corruption
Kim QuekDec 5, 06 4:54pm
Adjust font size:

I refer to the malaysiakini report How to spend RM600 million in 6 weeks.
Did Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi commit an act of corruption when he announced the impromptu decision to Umno delegates on the eve of the 57th Umno general assembly to award RM3 million of small contracts to each of the 191 parliamentary constituencies where Umno had a division?
The answer is a clear-cut ‘yes’ as the ingredients necessary to establish a corrupt act are all present.
On Nov 13, Pak Lah announced in a closed-door briefing to the delegates that a surprise year-end bonus of RM600 million would be dished out in the form of small contracts covering the whole country except Sarawak (where Umno had no divisions).
On the same day, Deputy Works Minister Mohd Zin Mohamed issued a letter to the Public Works (JKR) chief asking him to execute Pak Lah’s announcement of the RM600 million allocation, which was to be divided into RM 3 million for each of the parliamentary constituencies (totaling 191, Sarawak excluded).
Mohd Zin asked that all district engineers consult local leaders to ascertain the projects, all of which were to be completed within two months. Following this letter, JKR issued guidelines as to how this RM3 million for each parliamentary constituency was to be spent. These guidelines were that the contracts were meant for Class F contractors (who were all bumiputeras), each entitled to one contract only, amount to be no more than RM200,000, works to start within three days and to be completed in 2006, payment by end January 2007, projects to comprise minor works on roads, drains, pipes, electrical wiring, renovating buildings, etc.

It is clear that this RM600 million year-end bonus is intended for Umno grassroots leaders, most of whom are Class F contractors living on government contracts. If this is not the case, then how can Pak Lah explain the fact that the state of Sarawak, which needs this kind of spending most but which has no Umno presence, is completely left out of this scheme?

Further, district engineers were specifically asked to consult local leaders to ascertain the contracts. Who can these local leaders be if not Umno’s divisional leaders in each of the 191 parliamentary constituencies? (surely they can t be PAS, DAP or PKR leaders?) Moreover, the unorthodox manner with which this RM600 million was announced befits more an emergency relief for a catastrophe such as that occasioned by a major tsunami or an 8.0 Richter scale earthquake rather than for routine petty works.

For the announcement came out of the blue, and the pattern of distribution of spending seemed artificially carved out for bonus-giving purpose, not for maintaining local infrastructures. At the press conference held after the closed-door meeting with Umno delegates on Nov 13, Pak Lah justified this RM600 million allocation by saying that it was needed to top up the previous allocation of RM1.5 billion which he said was nearly depleted.

He said ‘we have identified other minor projects for the rural community. This claim was, however, contradicted by Deputy Rural Development Minister Zainal Abidin Osman in Parliament on Nov 15. Answering a query from PAS member of parliament Salahuddin Ayub, Zainal Abidin said that his ministry had not been informed of this RM600 million for projects in rural areas.

Is it not strange that the deputy minister had no knowledge of this fund which was intended to be spent for projects under his ministry on an emergency basis? Shouldn’t such urgent projects have been presented in the first place by the Rural Development Ministry to the Treasury and the cabinet for urgent approval, before making the announcement by the minister for rural development (not the prime minister)?

Did the PM or the rural development minister know what these urgent projects were?
Obviously not, otherwise the deputy minister of works would not have asked the district engineers to find out the answers from the local leaders . What a strange way of throwing away massive public funds - the PM asking 3,000 to 5,000 Class F contractors to finish spending all the RM600 million in the record speed of six weeks, without the relevant ministries knowing what these supposedly urgent projects were!

Surely this will be a big feast for the thousands of lucky cronies who will be simultaneously picked based on political connections and given bonanzas free of competitive pricing, as such tight schedules of implementation would preclude any open tender. And since this is public money, to be used on public projects, is it also not strange that the decision was not announced to the public but was hurriedly conveyed to Umno delegates in a closed-door meeting on the eve of a Umno national assembly?

It is not so, if one understands that the impending party assembly was no ordinary annual assembly, but a crucial one in which the tussle for power between the former and the incumbent party leaders might play out. Knowing how deeply ingrained was the tradition of money politics in the Umno hierarchy, what better way was there to ensure a hassle-free convention for the incumbent leader than to declare an instant bumper bonus to all and sundry? While Pak Lah and his power clique may congratulate themselves on the smooth sailing he had in consolidating his support during the party assembly, which was contributed in no small way by this pecuniary measure, does the party president realise the high price he has to pay in securing this support through such dishonourable conduct? In the first place, there is no way he could free himself from the taint of corruption in the face of such glaring incriminating evidences. There was the motive and the benefit received, which was enhancing support within Pak Lah’s camp while neutralising potential opposition from Mahathir loyalists.

And there was the unmistakable abuse of authority, breaching all established regulations and laws in dispensing public funds, much of which were wasted through inflated pricing and non-optimal utilisation. We call this kind of unlawful practice money politics, abuse of power and corruption - the very evils that Pak Lah pledged to free this nation from when he took over the reign from his predecessor Dr Mahathir Mohamad. In any democracy, such serious breach of law by the chief executive of a nation would have caused instant public uproar, with the mass media relentlessly pursuing the culprit, and law enforcement agencies such as the anti-corruption body, attorney-general and the police moving in to investigate for possible offences. Such a series of events will most likely lead to the resignation of the culprit, followed by prosecution. Nothing of this sort happened in Malaysia. As usual, our mass media (save the Internet) and law enforcing agencies steadfastly play the ‘see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil’ game, in spite of police reports being made.

The double standards in the implementation of law is ever present everywhere - one for the ruling elite, and another for the rest. This incident serves as a stern reminder that the rule of law is still seriously impaired under the present political leadership, and that we are a far cry from the day when we can call our country a democracy. For those die-hard who are hoping against hope that Pak Lah will bring us the much yearned for reforms, and who still insist that he must given more time to fulfill his pledges, the present episode is good food for thought.