Friday, May 27, 2011

When Interest Rates Rise, the Middle Income gets most affected !!!

Without the slightest of doubt we are going in for higher and higher costs of living.

The BLR has increased to something like 6.6%.  What this means is that interest rates will and has already risen.

If you check your housing loan statement, you will find that you are now paying more in terms of instalments on the interest rate.  This directly affects you because you will now have less money on the same salary for otheer things in your life. Your cost of living goes up, your standard of living goes down.

Despite whatever statements the "clever professionals" in the various institutions are saying, we are already experiencing inflationary tendencies. You do not have to be an economist from Harvard to know the price increases in almost all the daily essentials when you just visit your local market.

Ironically, quite a number of employers are complaining that salaries these days are much higher than just say four years ago. This will increase the costs of production and hence, the prices of goods and services will increase further compunding the inflationary tendency. Sounds like an unpleasant chain reaction is starting again right? Well, as long as a small ecoomy like us is still stuck in the current economic system, will continue to suffer the consequences of the system caused by its natural processes.

It also does not help that solutions are put forth by people trained by masters of the system in a faraway place.  The "solutions" are actually future traps for further, bigger problems because the root cause has never been and will never be addressed in the current system which is set to stay for many more decades unless something "out of the ordinary" happens.
Now there is talk of having to cut the subsidies and that if that is not done, then the country will suffer in the future. If indeed subsidies are cut, what this means is that prices will increase further.

When prices increase, your every one ringgit can now buy less things. Unless you income increases, you will be able to afford less things than before.

What is not helping is that while prices and costs are going up on one hand, on the other hand, some enforcement authorities are hurting genuine businesses on the "flimsiest of reasons" using discretionary powers given by law. It is a case of the left hand not complementing the right hand.

There seems to be no wholesome coordination of "economic recovery" efforts in this country.  For every one step forward we take, we seem to take pleasure in taking three steps back !

There also seems to be no effort at looking at wastages and leakages. At the same time, the "clever institutions" do not seem to be monitoring the "money economy" where while no goods and services are produced, they create purchasing power or in economic terms, demand. Hence, you end up having or creating a situation where demand is exceeding supply of real goods and services - once again leading to price increases.

It also does not help that the 'mainstream' is so caught up with the non bread and butter issues.

What is so difficult about being in control in a wholesome manner?

In short, brace yourselves for hard, difficult times.

Peace !

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


First time I saw the program over TV8 today.   Since i have always liked dancing (other than law, human psychology, comparative religion, the Quran, music, etc, etc) i was glued to the set. 

I was impressed with the talent these young people have. The show is meant to bring out the best street dance crews into the limelight and also to shed light on the street dance culture. You can read more about the show here.

Young people have lots of adrenalin and energy and i think programs like these give an opportunity for the energies to be positively channelled.  We cannot suppress such energies under dubious “moral exhortations” like some self righteous people are inclined to do.

These dances require lots of training, discipline and determination. Choreography or team work is essential for crew dancing.  

I recall that i too had taken part in a dancing competition when i was in my teens doing the “Saturday night fever” !  After which i had worked as a part time DJ in one of the discos then without my parents knowledge (gila nak bagi tau!). Never smoked and never drank but I think I was a cool DJ !  Some of the patrons and my friends used to call me “Q DJ” because I loved discussing the Quran and God with them during breaks – whenever they tolerate me!!! (The truth is God has made us all multi talented and we can develop multiple healthy personalities if we resist "society's" persistence to box us into certain roles only).

I cannot help but notice that quite a number of the participants in the Showdown 2011 are Malays. I am not surprised since Malays are generally very creative and artistic.  Since there are quite a number of Malay participants, my concerns are two – when will a religious official come with a fatwa banning it? Or when will a self acclaimed Malay champion criticise it on grounds that of “budaya kuning” or “budaya barat”?! Susah jadi Melayu kan? Semua orang nak control, semua orang nak bagi nasihat yang tak dipohon.

As for me, I want to congratulate TV8 for providing this opportunity for the young to showcase their talents. And to the talented young – use your talents to make this world a better place for yourself and everyone else.

Peace and stay cool !

Salam !

p.s. one of my dreams that I could not achieve is to be able to talk about the Quran and God after a powerful dance performance on stage ! But in this country, I probably have to apply for  a permit for both from some stranger I dont even know !!! Ah well..:)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ex_Telcom Minister & Ex-CM's daughter arrested and jailed

Form the high-profile bungalows , rubbing shoulders with power, to a dingy ladies cellular cell in Delhi's most notorious Tihar Jail, it has been a nightmare for member of Parliament, Kanimozhi. She was denied bail because of her involvement in the 2G scam and sent to Tihar Jail. Most of the other accused in this case including the ex- Telecom Minister A. Raja are also lodged there.
Kanimozhi's first night in Tihar Jail was a far cry from the hustle and bustle, and the media attention that she has got, ever since her name came up the 2G embezzlement case.

You can read the rest here.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Peniaga Melayu P.Pinang: Rayu UMNO-PAS Bersatu Bagi Membela Nasib Peniaga Melayu P.Pinang

Walaupun hari ini Ahad, saya sebenarnya mempunyai banyak kerja segera yang perlukan perhatian saya. Namun, saya terpanggil untuk menulis pandangan ini kerana tajuk diatas yang keluar dalam Mingguan Malaysia mengusik minda dan jiwa saya.  Ia nya berkaitan peniaga-peniaga kecil, Melayu dan parti-parti yang dianggotai oleh ahli-ahli Melayu.

Pertubuhan Ikatan Usahawan Kecil dan Sederhana Malaysia (Ikhlas) mendakwa bahawa gerai-gerai peniaga Melayu diroboh manakala gerai-gerai kepunyaan kaum lain tidak diambil sebarang tindakan.  Mereka juga mendakwa bahawa kerajaan DAP tidak bersungguh didalam menyelesaikan masalah ini. Jika dakwaan in benar, ada beberapa perkara yang perlu difikirkan terlebih dahulu.

Pertama sekali, saya memang tidak menyukai sebarang tindakan oleh pihak berkuasa terhadap peniaga-peniaga kecil yang merugiikan atau membebankan kehidupan mereka asalkan mereka itu sendiri tidak melanggar peraturan-peraturan yang adil.  Sebarang tindakan yang menyusahkan peniaga-peniaga kecil merupakan penindasan golongan berpendapatan sederhana bawah atau menengah. Kebanyakkan rakyat didalam Negara ini merupakan mereka yang berpendapatan menengah dan rendah. Maka, keupayaan dan peluang golongan ini untuk mencari rezeki yang halal harus dilindungi dan diperjuangkan oleh rakyat yang bertanggungjawap.

Keduanya, saya terasa keciwa dengan pendekatan atau laungan Ikhlas untuk menyelesaikan masalah peniaga-peniaga kecil ini iaitu kesatuan UMNO dan PAS untuk menyelesaikan masalah ini. Pendekatan ini membutakan mata kita kepada satu perkara yang amat penting – apakah undang-undang yang sedia ada tidak mampu untuk mengembalikan keadilan kepada peniaga-peniaga yang tertindas? Seharusnya, rakyat mampu berlindung dibawah undang-undang dan peraturan yang adil tanpa perlu berpaut kepada mana-mana parti politik. Sekiranya Ikhlas benar-benar ikhlas dalam memperjuangkan hak peniaga-peniaga kecil, ia seharusnya menggunakan lunas undang-undang untuk menyelesaikan masalah ini daripada mengalihkan nya ke medan politik.  

Jika Ikhlas mendapati bahawa undang-undang yang sedia ada tidak mencukupi untuk melindungi peniaga-peniaga kecil atau tidak adil, maka ia seharusnya memulakan gerakan untuk mereformasikan undang-undang tersebut. Cara ini akan menjamin kesejahteraan dan hak peniaga-peniaga kecil dijangka panjang daripada penyelesaian politik jangka pendek.

Ketiganya, pendekatan Ikhlas merayu kepada UMNO dan PAS untuk “membela peniaga-peniaga Melayu” juga menampakkan bahawa Ikhlas masih lagi berenang dalam kolam politik untuk menyelesaikan masalah undang-undang dan ekonomi yang mereka hadapi sebagai rakyat Malaysia. Sebagai rakyat Malaysia, mereka tidak perlu bergantung kepada belas ihsan parti politik. Parti politik juga tidak bebas atau kebal daripada peruntukkan undang-undang. Tindakan Ikhlas ini memberi kredibiliti yang keterlaluan kepada parti politik UMNO dan PAS seolah-olah mereka ini bebas atau lebih tinggi daripada undang-undang. Jika sikap ini berterusan, maka lama kelamaan rakyat akan tenggalam dalam kolam politik. 

Keempatnya, andaian yang terdapat dalam rayuan Ikhlas kepada UMNO dan PAS juga merbahaya iaitu, hanya parti yang berahlikan Melayu sahaja akan membantu Melayu. Jika ini benar dan berterusan, maka Negara kita akan hancur pada satu masa kelak kerana kita masih lagi belum bebas daripada belenggu jahiliah berkacamatakan perkauman. Jika ini benar, ia bermakna bahawa walaupun kita sudah merdeka lebih daripada 50 tahun, rakyat Malaysia masih gagal berevolusi sebagai manusia dan Bani Adam. Ini juga harus dibetulkan.

Sekiranya benarlah Kerajaan DAP tidak membantu peniaga-peniaga kecil Melayu kerana mereka itu Melayu, maka ini adalah perkara yang serius yang perlu dibawa kemedan pengadilan bukannya medan politik. Ikhlas seharusnya membawa perkara ini ke Mahkamah dan mencabar keputusan ajensi-ajensi yang merobohkan gerai - gerai tersebut, kalau Ikhlas benar-benar ikhlas dengan isu ini. Sampai bila rakyat mahu bergantung kepada belas ihsan orang politik tanpa undang-undang adil yang melindungi rakyat daripada permainan serta kerakusan orang politik?

Saya percaya jika Ikhlas menggunakan pendekatan berasaskan kepada politik semata-mata dan politik perkauman, maka masalah peniaga-peniaga kecil Melayu di Pulau Pinang tidak akan diselesaikan.  Penyelesaiaan kepada masalah ini memerlukan pendekatan yang lebih bijak dan pelbagai termasuk pendekatan undang-undang untuk mencabar keputusan pembuat keputusan sekiranya keputusan itu dibuat diluar peruntukkan undang-undang.  Disamping pendekatan undang-undang, pendekatan-pendekatan lain termasuk ekonomi, perbincangan dengan kerajaan Negeri, wakil-wakil rakyat, kementerian-kementerian berkenaan dan lain-lain harus diusahakan. Pernahkah Ikhlas mencadangkan satu pelan jangka-panjang serta menyeluruh atau cadangan rapi bagaimana masalah ini boleh ditanggani? 

Percayalah, mencampuradukkan permainan politik dengan kegiatan ekonomi adalah satu permainan yang membahayakan serta merugikan golongan berpendapatan rendah dan menengah. Ini berlaku di dalam sejarah ekonomi manusia dan Negara kita tidak terkecuali daripada hukum ini. 

Kita harus mahu berevolusi untuk merenggangkan diri kita daripada diperalatkan dengan sentimen agama dan perkauman oleh golongan politik. Jangan kita pula yang memberi senjata merbahaya ini kepada orang politik. Mereka yang belajar sejarah jatuh bangun tamadun manusia serta sejarah Islam tahu betapa rapuh dan menipunya pendekatan berasaskan perkauman. 

Maka, sebaik-sebaik pendekatan bagi Ikhlas ialah untuk menumpukan usaha dalam menyelesaikan masalahnya secara bijaksana tanpa mempolitikkannya. Kesian lah kepada peniaga-peniaga kecil yang ingin mencari rezeki bagi menjaga anak-isteri  dan keluarga mereka.  


Sunday, May 8, 2011

More Unpleasant Predictions about Malaysia

I went to a function today and had a chat with a few Malaysian businessmen who are doing businesses abroad.  We were also joined by a Malaysian who has been with the World Bank for years and is now posted to the United Nations. We discussed global economic trends and where Malaysia stands in the larger scheme of things.

The Vatican, the Jewish groups and the China are said to be global  economic firepowers.  Each of these groups are influential globally in their own areas.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) is said to be the largest bank in the world. in terms of lending and deposits.  China Construction Bank Corporation, Agricultural Bank of China and the Bank of China also rank within the top 30 banks in the world.

China's car industry is also said to be the next major player in the world. Apparently, Japan no longer considers Malaysia's car market of any significance and this may lead to more cars coming from China to Malaysia - that too if the market volume is considered as commerically viable for China. The businessman who has business dealings with China, UK and other parts of the world predicts that the world economy will be completely different in five years from now with China being the major economic player in the world.

As to Malaysia, the consensus reached was that there will continue to be a major brain drain from the country. Malaysia is said to be regressing behind neighbouring countries like Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and even relatively Vietnam. The recurring theme was the lack of competitive spirit and competence among the Malaysian businessmen and industry players. If this is true, then we have failed all these years to cultivate a competent industrial and business culture.

I have been hearing too many negative things being said about Malayisan business competency and this needs to be addressed. However, our country's politics seems to be too engrossed with sensational, trivial and nonsensical issues and news which have no bearing on the general welfare of the Nation.

I hope Malaysians have not become too full of themselves or "syok sendiri"  until we do not realise that globally, we may be considered as totally insignificant.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Perbincangan masalah Melayu

Beberapa hari yang lalu, sempat kami bersembang sembang mengenai beberapa perkara. Diantara yang hadir pada sessi teh tarik itu terdiri daripada pelajar tempatan dan luar negeri, beberapa peniaga, beberapa orang politik serta orang biasa. Semua nya Melayu maka kami sembang mengenai sikap Melayu yang mungkin berperanan untuk membantut kemajuan mereka dalam hidup. Diantara perkara-perkara yang dibincang termasuk yang berikut;-

1) Melayu mudah teruja dengan kelulusan akademik tanpa menilai kredibiliti atau kebolehan berfikir orang yang memiliki kelayakan akademik tersebut. Perkara ini dirasakan jelas dalam bidang agama. Mereka yang mempunyai kelayakan formal agama diandaikan semestinya seorang yang mempunyai ilmu berasas dalam bidang agama. Segolong kertas izajah disalah faham sebagai hikmah dan ilmu!

2) Melayu terlalu takut untuk meluahkan pandangan dan perasaan sebenar atas alasan kesopanan walaupun meluahkan pandangan itu membantu.

3) Budaya memperhambakan diri kepada mereka yang berpangkat atau kaya. Menghormati seseorang tidak sama dengan memperhambakan diri sehingga membongkok badan sambil mencium tangan.

4) Dalam bidang-bidang agama, tidak mahu melakukan usul periksa dan membenarkan hidung di tarik kekiri dan kekanan oleh orang lain yang diandaikan lebih berilmu. Penilaian serta sikap pertanggungjawapan diri (self acountability) dikorbankan.

5) Tidak rajin membaca buku-buku berilmiah.

6) Mudah diperalat dengan penggunaan sentimen bangsa, atau agama walaupun menyusahkan diri sendiri.

7) terlalu mudah meniru budaya kaum lain dalam bidang agama yang tidak membantu walaupun ada budaya sendiri yang konsisten dengan ajaran Islam.

Apa pandangan saudara-saudari?


Wednesday, May 4, 2011


by Prof Dr Chandra Muzzzafar

The Arab Uprising is no longer what it was.  Its complexion is changing. 

One of the outstanding features of the first phase of the Uprising was its peaceful, non-violent character. The ouster of both the Tunisian dictator, Ben Ali, on 25 January 2011 and the Egyptian autocrat, Hosni Mubarak, on 11 February 2011 was largely peaceful. But the protesters in Libya resorted to arms within a day or two of their uprising in Benghazi on 15 February.

It is well known that one of the leading groups in what has evolved into a full-scale rebellion is a well-armed militia, the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL).The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) is another militant outfit, some of whose founders were veterans from the struggle against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, that is playing a critical role in the rebellion. 

It is reportedly linked to Al-Qaeda. In Syria too, right from the outset, militant organisations had infiltrated peaceful demonstrations and fired upon civilians and security forces alike, killing more than 80 senior military personnel.Some elements in the protest movement in Yemen which at the beginning was peaceful have also begun to resort to violence.


The other trend which has tarnished the Arab Uprising is the interference of regional actors in the revolts and rebellions that are occurring in individual states.  The most blatant was of course the entry of troops from Saudi Arabia at the head of a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) military force into Bahrain on 14 March 2011 to put down a popular uprising supported by the majority Shiite population against the Sunni Bahraini monarch, ShiekhHamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa. 

The brutal suppression of a peaceful movement for basic human rights and democracy --- 52 civilians were massacred ---- has been a severe setback for the Uprising as a whole.   But Saudi officials insist that it is Shiite Iran that is instigating the protest in Bahrain.Turning to another kingdom in the region, Qatar has been giving military and financial assistance to the rebels in Libya. It is alleged that Syrian protesters are being armed and funded by Bandar Sultan of Saudi Arabia and Saad Hariri in Lebanon. 

The motives behind interference and manipulation by individuals, groupsand states are not difficult to discern. The Saudi-GCC move into Bahrain was to preserve the status quo in Bahrain for fear that democratisation of the Sheikhdom would undermine the Saudi Ruler’s absolute power in his own kingdom especially since there is a restive Shiite minority in his  eastern province. Qatar’s role in the Libyan rebellion has nothing to do with democracy since Qatar is an absolute monarchy with the Emir exercising total suzerainty over the Emirate’s oil. By supporting the rebels,Qatar is actually acting at the behest of Western powers that are determined to affect a regime change in Libya. 

Qatar is after all a close US military ally whose air-base is used by the US for its operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Qatar also has commercial ties with Israel. It is partly because they are pursuing the agenda of Western powers and Israel vis-à-vis Syria that Sultan and Hariri are actively engaged in fomenting unrest in that country. For Hariri in particular it is also a question of hitting back at Syrian President, Bashar Assad, for allegedly manoeuvring him out of office in Beirut.

Western Powers

If manipulations and manoeuvres by regional players have impacted adversely upon the Arab Uprising it is largely because they are intertwined--- as we have seen--- with the interests of certain Western powers.This is the third negative trend that should concern us.It is alleged, for instance, that the NFSL is funded by the CIA and French Intelligence.  France, Britain, the US and other Western countries such as Italy, Spain, Portugal and Canada have gone beyond imposing a ‘No Fly Zone’ upon Libya to attempting to eliminateGadaffi physically. 

His youngest son, Saif al-Arab, and three grandchildren, killed in a NATO air-strike on 30 April, have become the tragic victims of this diabolical assassination plan.  In Syria, evidence has surfaced to show that the US has been financing opposition groups, “including a satellite TV channel beaming anti-regime programmes into the country.”   

The London- based Barada TV channel which began broadcasting in April 2009 is linked to a London-based network of exiles, the Movement for Justice and Development, which has received as much as US 6 million dollars from the US State Department since 2006. In Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco and Algeria, where there is--- or there was --- unrest in some form or other, Western powers are involved, directly or obliquely, in ensuring that the eventual outcome would be in their favour. 

As a case in point, in Yemen, the US, it is alleged, is trying very hard to persuade the President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, an ally, to step down and hand over power to a leadership inclined towards the US. The GCC, a grouping that is closely aligned to the US and the West, is helping the US in this scheme. Even in Tunisia and Egypt, the US,working through individuals and groups in various institutions and segments of society, is determined to ensure that its interests and the interests of Israel will be preserved and perpetuated in the emerging democratic scenarios in the two countries.   


What are those interests that the US elite and other Western elites are determined to protect at all costs? They are not homogeneous though they revolve around some recurring themes. In the case of Libya, for Europe, more than the US, the desire to control the country’s huge oil and gas reserves is a factor. For the US, which has denied vehemently that it harbours any strategic designsvis-a-vis Libya, the latter’s critical role in facilitating China’s access to its own oil and gas and the energyresources of other African states is an important consideration. 

Since access to energy would be sine qua con for China’s ascendancy as a global power, the US which fears this new reality is going all out to control the flow of oil and gas in China’s direction. According to Paul Craig Roberts, a former senior US government official, “China has extensive energy investments and construction investments in Libya. They are looking to Africa as a future energy source.” 

Besides, Gadaffi has, in recent months, intensified his mobilisation of African states to form a sort of United States of Africa which will resist Western exploitation of the continent’s vast natural resources. This would run counter to the Pentagon’s idea of an African Command (Africom) launched in 2007. With Syria, US and other Western elites are unhappy that the Bashar Assad government remains a “resistance state” opposed to the unjust Israeli occupation of Arab lands. 

Because it has close ties to the Hezbollah in Lebanon which is now in the driver’s seat in Beirut, and is also an ally of the Iranian government ---both of which are in the crosshairs of Washington and Tel Aviv---- Syria has become a threat to the US and Israeli drive for hegemony over the region. Israel and the West would prefer a government in Damascus that would be more accommodative of their dominance. 

The US’s primary concern in Yemen is to ensure that the strategic port of Edenis under the watchful eye of a reliable ally while it would like to see Bahrain remain in the grip of the Khalifa family mainly because the island is the home of the US fifth fleet. Saudi Arabia is of critical importance to the US and Israel not only because of its mammoth oil reserves but also because it is a huge importer of US weapons. This is why the US is determined to keep the King on his throne. Some of the same considerations--- albeit on a lower scale---apply to Qatar and Kuwait. Egypt and Jordan are crucial because both have signed peace treaties with Israel. 

Oil, Israel, China, geostrategic interests, and weapons are the five reasons why the US and its western allies are hell-bent on shaping the Arab Uprising to fulfil their agenda. This is why there is so much meddling and interference on their part. It explains their military intervention in Libya. Some analysts would argue that the West is staging a “counter –revolution” to the Arab Uprising, with the connivance and collusion of their Arab allies and clients.  


How should we respond this challenge?  More and more governments and civil society organisations should speak up and make it lucidly clear to the US and its NATO allies, the Gaddafi government and all the opposition groups that there is no military solution in Libya. A ceasefire should be declared at once. It should be observed by everyone under the supervision of international observers. 

The African Union and Turkish peace plans which have many similarities should be revived with some modifications, and merged. Apart from opening a humanitarian corridor in the country through which aid will be transported to all those in dire need, the emphasis should be upon building institutions for a viable, sustainable democracy. 

At the same time, the merged peace plan should contain provisions for the departure of Gaddafi and his family. Given the terrible atrocities the dictator has committed against his own people and others over decades--- atrocities which now outweigh the good that he has done--- there is no other option. One hopes that after the exit of the Gaddafi family and its cronies, a free and fair election in Libya will produce a leadership that is not only honest and accountable but also one that will defend and protect the nation’s sovereignty and independence. It should not be subservient to Western powers or other powers for that matter.

In the case of Syria too, the citizens of the world have a role to play.  They should demand, in unequivocal language, that the US, Britain, France, Israel, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia stop immediately their machinations and manipulations. It is the people of Syria who will determine the destiny of their nation. The Bashar Assad government for its part should hasten the meaningful reforms it has promised the people in recent weeks. Many of these reforms have not been translated into action. Other laws that are in the offing related to local administration elections, the formation of political parties, and the freedom of the media, should be expedited. 

Indeed, Bashar should go beyond these reforms and announce publicly that there will be a democratic Presidential Election before the end of this year and he is prepared to defend his presidency in an open contest. At the same time, he should realise that while he has the right as Syria’s legitimate President to act firmly against murderous militias, his security forces should exercise maximum restraint when faced with peaceful, unarmed protesters. The killing of such protesters is totally unacceptable to the human conscience. It is this that provides fodder to Western governments that are so eager to intervene in Syria in pursuit of their own nefarious agenda.

These humble suggestions on how we can respond to the challenge posed by a “counter-revolution” engineered by certain Western powers and their Arab allies, especially in the context of Libya and Syria, are being made in the hope that the Arab Uprising can still be saved. If the Arab Uprising can be returned to its pristine ideals, it will emerge once again, as a genuine struggle by a people determined to re-affirm their dignity and their humanity.

3 May 2011
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST) and Professor of Global Studies at UniversitiSains Malaysia.