Friday, May 29, 2015

Is Malaysia on a fire sale? – J.D. Lovrenciear

Image result for UAE’s International Investment Petroleum Company (Ipic) is now rushing to save 1MDB

The latest news outbreak that UAE’s International Investment Petroleum Company (Ipic) is now rushing to save Malaysia's official investment arm from the jaws of money lenders is even more frightening than all the past allegations, evidence and counterarguments we have been fed so far.
Malaysia’s Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah is even “pleased to announce” to the Cabinet this latest brokered deal.
The question is, how are we ordinary, caring, concerned citizens who have always stood steadfast to defend this land from as far back as the times of the raiding pirates to the colonial masters and the Japanese invasion, supposed to feel “pleased” at this sudden help offered by a foreign entity?
Citizens are demanding crystal clear answers to several painful questions that they cradle feverishly in their bosom, all for the sake of Malaysia, today and tomorrow.
They want to know, would any “Samaritan” offer a whopping RM3.57 billion just to ward off chasing and jittery bankers out of pure charity and for free?
Yes, Bernama, the Malaysian national news agency, reports that 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) will provide the “Good Samaritan” lenders “with a number of financial assets”.
Now that also sends fevers upwards as citizens hold their breath wondering what those assets would be.
What knocks all sensible common sense out in cold blood is: why do we have to borrow so much to develop our country? The fact that we are now borrowing even more to pay off debtors is proof that our national liabilities are increasing.
Can you imagine what the fate and future of this tiny nation would be if the warnings of Warren Buffets on global financial health turn out to be true soon?
And having borrowed so much plus having “sold” to our own financial and investment institutions so far, we are now reduced to seeking more huge sums just to put the brakes on hounding lenders.
Now the fact is, nobody will give you such huge sums of money for free or out of sheer connections to the step-son of the prime minister of Malaysia.
There has to be collateral; there has to be some extraordinarily attractive returns on investment in order for a prudent investor to agree to part with his or her country's wealth, right?
Now, if 1MDB is the mother of all promises and gift-extraordinaire to all Malaysians, why in the first place does the Finance Ministry even think of tabling in Cabinet a rushed restructuring plan as saviour?
Ordinary, loyal, patriotic and concerned citizens will surely ask, is 1MDB in a mega-proportion sort of trouble now?
Likewise, Malaysia being a sovereign nation with a constitutional monarch and brother-rulers, will also be joining the concerned citizens' expressed concerns.
Are we pawning this nation’s assets into the palms of foreign parties, governments or investors who certainly are connected to their respective governments?
Indeed, it is very frightening as the days keep ticking by. And mind you, all these are happening when even our Cabinet members admit they do not understand all of 1MDB.
Even the chief of the Backbenchers Club has to summon the head of 1MDB for a discussion right into the “wee hours of the morning” in a private hotel to try to come to terms with this mysterious 1MDB, mind you.
What more us innocent citizens?
Now is there no one in this country who can help us citizens who only know how to question helplessly out of loyalty to nation, crown and citizens? Or shall we all change our tune to one of, “who cares as long as we can eat and go to sleep tonight”?
* J.D. Lovrenciear reads The Malaysian Insider.

Restaurants urged not to sell food to Muslims during Ramadan

Presma president Noorul Hassan Saul Hameed (seated, third from left) with members during the press conference at its headquarters. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Noel Achariam, May 30, 2015.Presma president Noorul Hassan Saul Hameed (seated, third from left) with members during the press conference at its headquarters. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Noel Achariam, May 30, 2015.
Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) will take stern action against any of its members, who allow Muslims customers to eat at their business premises during the fasting month of Ramadan.
Presma president Noorul Hassan Saul Hameed said they could also revoke the membership of the operator if it failed to abide by the directive.
He said Presma would not compromise as such actions tarnished the image of Islam for the sake of making a profit.
"Therefore, I hope that the restaurant operators will only sell food to customers when Muslims break their fast," he said during a press conference at the Presma headquarters recently.
Presma has close to 3,200 members nationwide.
Meanwhile, Noorul also regretted the enforcement actions taken by the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry (KPDNKK) and the Royal Malaysian Customs Department after the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST).
He said Presma had received complaints from its members that the agencies were only targeting the Muslim restaurant owners.
"Just because a handful of Muslim restaurant owners do not abide by the rules, they should not blame all the restaurants owners.
"We are being targeted as if we are the only ones who are not paying GST. In fact, this speculation about Muslim restaurant owners not paying GST on social media has made our members very depressed," he said.
Noorul said the two agencies should adopt a more prudent, ethical and considerate approach when conducting their operations.
"We are not stopping the authorities from taking action against operators who raise the price of food and drinks, but do not discriminate against others.
"We have lost 15% to 30% of our customers two months after the GST was implemented. We hope the authorities will be more considerate when carrying out the enforcement," he said.

New group seen as Putrajaya ‘tool’ to win over Christians

The recent protest against a church’s use of a cross in Taman Medan has raised tensions between Muslims and Christians, something which a new NGO hopes to breach. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, May 30, 2015.The recent protest against a church’s use of a cross in Taman Medan has raised tensions between Muslims and Christians, something which a new NGO hopes to breach. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, May 30, 2015.
Despite reservations by established organisations, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is set to launch the Christians for Peace and Harmony Malaysia (CPHM), a group which critics have accused of being a tool to help the government reclaim confidence among the Christians.
Critics of the new group have questioned its inception, noting that the other prominent Christian groups like Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM) and Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) have distanced themselves from this non-governmental organisation.
Critics said that Putrajaya's endorsement of this new group made it look as if the others had not been effective in their roles in uniting Christians.
These include the “Allah” issue, seizure of Christian materials, including Malay and Iban Bibles and the recent Taman Medan cross protest.
CFM executive secretary Tan Kong Beng confirmed that it was not involved in CPHM, but declined to comment on its establishment.
When asked if CFM leaders would attend the launch on June 2, he said invitations had been sent to individual council members and a few were able to attend.
Najib is expected to launch CPHM in a grand affair on Tuesday, which will see even Malay right-wing group Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali, who is known for his extremist views, attending.
In revealing this, CPHM chairman Reverend Wong Kim Kong (pic), a former secretary-general of the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF), said leaders and representatives from 230 churches in the Klang Valley were expected to attend along with heads of the various religious groups in the country.
Rebutting critics, he said the new NGO has been misunderstood by many and denied that CPHM was a government tool to smooth the ruffled feathers of Christians and rack up support for the embattled prime minister.
"This is not true, Najib is not using us. We approached him to launch our group and they (the government) have not funded us. And even if they were to offer funding, we would not accept it," he told The Malaysian Insider.
"People have jumped to the wrong conclusion about us because of the wrong information out there. I hope you will be able to see as we go along, that we are not political at all."
One prominent figure involved in the NGO include Lee Min Choon, president of the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM), whose premises were raided and where the authorities seized Malay and Iban language Bibles on January 2, 2014. 
Wong said being a Christian NGO, there were some misgivings when trying to reach out to those from other religions for the purpose of fostering peace and harmony but with the prime minister's recognition, these gaps could be closed.
"There will be recognition for us to work with not only Christians but with everyone. Najib endorsing us will be good for our mission to foster peace and harmony among Malaysians.”
The idea of a new NGO came about after Wong was approached by several grassroots Christian leaders who expressed concerns over the increasing racial and religious sentiments in the country.
"After I left the NECF, I was training and counselling some pastors. And at this time, Christianity became very prominent in society because of the ‘Allah’ issue and everything else.
"Because of this, Christians have been perceived to be against the government and against Muslims. So these grassroots leaders came to me and said that it was time to do something to pacify the situation," said Wong, who is a founding member of Malaysia Care.
Malaysia Care is a non-profit Christian organisation focused on empowering poor and needy communities in the country.
He also noted that in order to resolve the declining situation, confrontation and consultation would not work in the Malaysian context.
"Although I can understand why some (groups) are confrontational, in the Malaysian context, the religious sensitivities do not permit us to solve problems that way. The intention – to ensure that religious liberties may not erode further – is noble, though.
"Consultation, too, does not work because we are suspicious of one another. The Muslims are suspicious of the Christians and vice versa.”
Instead, CPHM decided it would do things differently and decided it would approach these challenges with "love".
"We want to be the catalyst in motivating every citizen to promote peace and harmony. We won't only work with Christians but with everyone.”
Wong, however, expressed disappointment with opposition politicians who have all declined invitations to attend the launch of CPHM because of Najib's presence.
"We sent invitations to two top leaders of each party. But some have replied to say that cannot participate in an event where Najib is the guest of honour.
"They have shown that they do not understand the objective of this, that we must come together. They also forget that he (Najib) is still the PM of the land."

Respect each other, Najib tells Malaysians

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak says Malaysians must maintain harmony among the different communities. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, May 30, 2015. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak says Malaysians must maintain harmony among the different communities. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, May 30, 2015. 
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said that all Malaysians must respect each other's religion and culture to preserve the peace and stability of the country.
He said Malaysians, regardless of race and religious background, should also reject any form of extremism to maintain harmony among the communities.
"We should continue the moderation (practised) in this country. I believe that we must reject any form of extremism, whether it is religion or racial. 
The event was held in appreciation of the donors who contributed to the Huazong's new building construction.
Also present were Najib's wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and Huazong's president Tan Sri Pheng Yin Huah.
Najib said the contributors would receive tax exemption of RM43 million.
"I believe with this new building, Huazong can play more effective roles for Malaysia to achieve high-income country in 2020.
"The government has also contributed RM5 million to support the construction of Huazong new building," he said.
He said the construction of the 12-storey building in Kajang, worth RM80 million, was expected to be completed in October or November this year. – Bernama

NAJIB & CABINET SHOULD BE HUNG: RM42 billion went POOOOF into thin air

NAJIB & CABINET SHOULD BE HUNG: RM42 billion went POOOOF into thin air
Mamaks are quite well known for their special relationship with money. As hardworking as we are, we tend to give special attention to our hard earned cash.
I remember my late grandpa keeping his monies safe by placing them underneath the folded layers of his sarong. My late grandma on the other hand carried hers tied inside the corners of her handkerchief. Dad locks his monies in his antique safe deposit storage. Mom hides hers in her bra. And my brother who despite being very successful in his career, flaunts his mamakism by tying up his neatly rolled cash with yellow rubber bands.
Coming from the same family, I too have a distinctive habit when it comes to money – I get excited over one ringgit notes.
This is what I do on a daily basis – I use big notes to pay for everything, trying to get hold of as many one ringgit notes as possible. Every day upon reaching home, I arrange the stacks of one ringgit notes I collected during the day – and which I swear never to use – in my cardboard box before putting it away somewhere safe.
I find saving money this way, easy and fun. Last month I saved RM450 and RM490 the month before. The best thing about it is that it is effortless and a good addition to my monthly savings in the bank.
I am sure everyone has their own way of saving – some make direct transfers from salary accounts to savings accounts; some have piggy banks; some keep ‘em tucked away under their pillows; hidden in their underwear drawers; while some deposit it into their Amanah Saham Berhad and Tabung Haji accounts; while others make investments.
No matter how we decide to save for a rainy day, sometimes I do worry that whatever I save will still not be sufficient to cover my needs in the future. Seriously, how does one budget for the rest of their life? And what happens if, due to some unforeseen circumstances, whatever we save vanishes into thin air?
It is moments like these that remind me of the untraceable RM42billion Malaysia seems to have lost.
Forty-two billion. Masya Allah! 4-2-followed by nine zeros. NINE ZEROS. Geez. That’s a lot of money. I couldn’t save that much money even if I get to be 200 years old. In fact, even if most Malaysians put all our savings together, we might not get any close to even RM1 billion, what more RM42 billion!
The thing is, as a guarantor to this untraceable RM42 billion, our government has made a big boo-boo. And now they might be forced to cough up billions to cover for the vanished sum. BILLIONS. Billions which by right should be spent on our well-being.
This money could be used to build public hospitals with state-of-the-art facilities in our neighbourhood. It could be used to improve our roads; sponsor our children’s education; improve public transportation in our district; reduce our utility bills and provide us with free Internet services.
My God, if we begin to list down all the things we could do with it, I can assure you it will be a never ending list!
The thing that boggles my mind is how RM42 billion simply vanished. Seriously how can that much money be untraceable? It must be residing somewhere. Someone should know.
I dunno about you, but if it was any of my one ringgit stacks which had gone MIA, I would have hung the people in-charge upside down to a coconut tree.
How about you? What would you do if one day you found your savings account statement showing less than what you remembered depositing?
Funny how RM42 billion went POOOOF into thin air… perhaps a rope and a coconut tree would help those in charge remember where it went. - FMT

NAJIB HAS BROUGHT UMNO TO ITS WEAKEST-EVER: Best time for Sabah, Sarawak to demand their rights & shut the door on hudud

NAJIB HAS BROUGHT UMNO TO ITS WEAKEST-EVER: Best time for Sabah, S'wak to demand their rights & shut the door on hudud
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak is fighting for his political life, with the former longest-serving Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir leading the charge in the campaign for Najib to step down as Prime Minister to save UMNO and Barisan Nasional (BN) from defeat in the next general elections.
Lines are being drawn in Najib's titanic life-and-death battle as the sixth Prime Minister and UMNO President, but there is no reason for Pakatan Rakyat to take sides whether to throw Najib a life-line or to support Mahathir's campaign to save UMNO/BN as Pakatan Rakyat's objective must surely, firmly and unswervingly remain on the larger objective to save Malaysia and Malaysians and not to save any one political party or even one person!
This is UMNO/BN's weakest moment in the federal government coalition's history. In fact, the UMNO/BN had already lost majority support of the Malaysian voters in the recent 13th general elections as it is Pakatan Rakyat and not Barisan Nasional which had secured the majority support of the electorate in the national polls two years ago and the Malaysian Prime Minister of the day should have been Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and not Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Unfortunately, Pakatan Rakyat is itself at its weakest in its 7-year history, and it is unable to take advantage, let alone full advantage, of the turmoils in UMNO/BN.
We have even allowed Najib's plotters and strategists to make considerable headway in their long-term conspiracies to sow division and conflict among the Pakatan Rakyat parties, to the extent that the survival of Pakatan Rakyat has become as immediate and pressing as the question of the survival of Najib as Prime Minister and UMNO President.
The two issues Najib's plottters and strategists have used to “dangle, divide and destroy” Pakatan Rakyat are the issues of UG (Unity Government) - not Malaysian unity but Malay unity government of UMNO and PAS - and the implementation of PAS Kelantan hudud enactment.
But Najib's choice is clear when he had to choose between holding support of BN's 48 MPs in Sarawak and Sabah or wooing PAS' 21 MPs.
Is Najib prepared to lose the support of BN's 48 MPs in Sarawak and Sabah (nine Sarawak and Sabah MPs are from Pakatan Rakyat), and lose majority support in Parliament as well as the Prime Ministership so as to support the private member's bill motion of the PAS President on the implementation of the Kelantan PAS hudud criminal enactment to woo PAS' 21 MPs?
Under the circumstances, it is no surprise that PAS President's private member's bill motion has not even appeared on the parliamentary order paper for the current parliamentary meeting!
Lim Kit Siang is DAP Adviser

ZURAIDA TICKS OFF WEALTHY ROHANI: Try living on RM900 a month for yourself & family before you talk

ZURAIDA TICKS OFF WEALTHY ROHANI: Try living on RM900 a month for yourself & family before you talk
Minister for Women, Family and Community Development, Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim has certainly never lived the life of a wage earner. Wanita Keadilan challenges her to live 30-days as a woman who earns the minimum wage of RM900 together with her existing family and then decide at the end of 30 days whether or not she would still try to convince other people to have more children when there are high living costs and financial worries on the mind.
Wanita Keadilan is of the opinion that the family must be ready for the additional responsibilities and be financially stable before considering more children. This is to avoid further problems in the future.
It is a fact that birthrates are declining but the quality of life must maintain or improve. Instead of advising families to “not focus too much on the quality of life”, the government should take the responsibility to ensure that Malaysian’s standard of living gets better and better. Our South-east Asian countries are now doing much better than us in all areas. For instance, South Korea is already way ahead of us with brands such as Samsung, LG, Hyundai and Kia making its name worldwide. What happened to Proton? Fifty-eight years after independence, we still lag behind in terms of economy, education, human rights and equality.
Rohani Abdul Karim
Although the national birthrate needs some attention, the right way and the only way to do it is to stop corruption so that our national finances are at a healthy level. A naturally wealthy nation like Malaysia should amply provide for all citizens, not for just a few cronies. BR1M is just hogwash. If the government was really serious, then 50% of BR1M should be deposited into the housewives’ accounts.
In fact, since a lot of expenses are incurred during births and the subsequent years for bringing up a child, perhaps the government should even look into subsidizing new births with some allocation to the parents, similar to the Selangor State programme TAWAS Although this might be a good idea, Wanita Keadilan is sure the BN government will not even consider it as the GST is applicable to even infants on basic items such as milk powder.
Last but not least, Wanita Keadilan hopes that Datuk Rohani will take up the challenge as proposed above.
YB Zuraida Kamaruddin
Ahli Parlimen Ampang
Ketua Wanita Keadilan