Archive for August, 2011

August 31, 2011

Round Up: Hari Kemerdekaan and Hari Raya 2011


As Malaysia celebrates Hari Raya Aidil Fitri (30-31 Aug) and National Day (31 Aug) this year, the country is shrouded with numerous issues that have a significant impact on all Malaysians unlike previous years.

Political
There is a lot of rumbling inside Umno and speculation is rife about PM Najib if he is going to face an ouster by DPM Muhyiddin in the December Umno General Assembly.

For some unknown reason(s), news like the RM24m diamond ring case, the Scorpene saga, the Rosmah MIL supposed expose of alleged links to the Russian Mafia by Kompas, and now the successful subpoena of Najib and Rosmah to the Anwar trial have added salt to the PM’s wounds and distracts him from his PM duties. It appears that the leaks and such made it out because of Umno internal hidden hands staging Najib’s exit. And now with his popularity rating falling 6 points since May to 59%, being the lowest any PM has ever obtained, may also be presented to dethrone Najib.

All of a sudden, DPM Muhyiddin has risen to appear as the “good guy” although the general feeling of Malaysians about the DPM is highly suspicious of his ultra Malay stand and his possible leanings to sideline others to reach his goals. His “I’m Malay first and Malaysian second” going against the 1Malaysia sentiments already showed his true colors. However, it may appear inevitable that should Najib be ousted, it will be Muhyiddin and not Razaleigh who will take over.

Amidst this backdrop, the GE13 will not happen until after the Umno General Assembly in December. Unless Najib reads the writing on the wall and calls for GE13 as a preemptive strike. We shall soon see what happens after this week.

Bersih, a civil movement, has sparked the imagination and political consciousness of all Malaysians to spur greater participation into our electoral reform matters. Although Bersih is still considered an illegal entity (technically it is not an entity but grouping of legal NGOs) and has the recognition of the Agung, the young and old alike have woken up to the realities of a Government who can act oppressively against electoral reforms it seems. The handling of Bersih has seen Najib’s popularity plummeting and the EC Deputy Chairman and the EC Chairman openly with different of opinions about what and how electoral reforms as demanded by Bersih should be handled.

It appears that there are those who want to do what is right for the country and those who want to do what is right for those in power.

Our civil service appears to have been brainwashed that they work for the BN Government instead of for the people of Malaysia. 53 years is long enough. Let this 54th year be a start of civil changes of allegience to the people, by the people, and for the people.

Religious
The murtad (apostasy) issue that arose from the 30+ man swoop by JAIS and the police onto a DUMC premises of an NGO dinner has since been taken wildly out of context. Accussations grew from this incident to arousing discord sentiments by TV3 and Berita Harian spiraled out of control without the authorities stepping in and ensuring factual reporting. In fact, PAS has come out stating that this incident smells of Umno involvement which PAS claims to have proof that was a political twist to this religious ploy by Umno to possibly destabilise PAS and PKR in Selangor.

Asri stepped out to clear the air that it was the church that has unconditionally helped those Malays that were present at the dinner and that they couldn’t get any such help from the authorities.

However, the damage has been done in an apparent government inaction of not stepping in to nip this in the bud early on and allowed the fanning of religious intollerance by various groups. Smells of a political twist to this saga.

Religious harmony is definitely not a priority of the present Government as seen by their inaction to stem out lies and there is no definitely visible interest to actively promote greater understanding for religious tolerance. While telling the world that Malaysia is a world class example of racial and religious tolerance, we are a first class actor to the world where in reality, the Government can use race and religion as a political weapon.

Social
Then there is the rife migration of Malaysians of well over a million to other countries for a better job or a better life in reacting to frustrations over the present government. This brain drain is severely hurting Malaysia’s capability to compete with our neighboring countries. The reality is that Malaysians of all races are running away.

The blatant ignoring of the poverty situation in Sabah and Sarawak as well as the import of aliens to be citizens into those two states (more so in Sabah with Project M) have broken the resolve of the natives there and allowed Umno to stamp their authority in Sabah. In their attempt to muscle into Sarawak, that was stopped by Taib making an exceptional turnaround at the Sarawak polls and swift swearing-in that had Umno stumped.

The standard of living of Malaysians has dropped significantly due to a stagnation of salaries and a spiralling increase in consumer goods – including food and basic needs. This happened over the last 3+ years very quickly overtaking Malaysians by surprise.

We have a set of serious social problems that the Government has turned a blind eye to or is seen doing very little about. Again, the mishandling of Bersih is clear that civil society has to shutup in the name of “peace”.

Economics
The cost of living has risen steadily regardless of Najib’s rhetorics that it was inevitable due to global economic climates affecting Malaysia. Blaming the country’s problem on the world is no way our PM should act. There are things that the PM can do to soften the impact, to be seen to have done everything in his power for the people. But he hasn’t.

This all started getting out of control in 2008 after GE12 by the then PM Badawi to cause an increase at the pump prices which in turn started consumer inflation. Prices for food and services never looked back since they started to rise then.

PM Najib took over the cue to reduce further petrol subsidy and removing diesel and sugar subsidies. This pushed consumer goods and services even higher. Najib continued to paint a rosy picture that inflation remains under control at around 3.5% but in reality, Malaysians have been paying a lot more for the food they eat, the transport they take and no more savings from a stagnated income. The household disposable income started to push Upper Middle towards Middle and Lower Income groups. This is seriously alarming and the poverty line is kept low to show good statistics.

Najib was only trying to hide the reality that Malaysians are really suffering amidst budget extension requests that sounds very suspicious especially in defense spendings. The maintenance of our 2 submarines, the naval vessels and helicopter purchases at a much higher price than other countries all sounds seriously bad when the people is struggling to pay our daily bread while exhorbitant amounts of money is going into undisclosed defense spending details (and “commission agents”?) all in the name of national security.

Who are we trying to defend Malaysia from? Indonesians? Singaporeans? Thais? Or pirates? Or UFO? What we have is neither advance or adequate for any real defense of foreign threat. But the expenditure is outrageous. Why can’t we use this to help cushion the inflationary impacts on Malaysians? If Malaysians had a referendum on this, we will choose the obvious. Alas, our Government is oblivious to our plight.

Economics is not PR. It must be handled by a set of fiscal, social, legal, and macro economic solutions. There is no one silver bullet.

Which means a cutting away of subsidies must be counter-measured with removing unnecessary spendings and eradicating corruption and other factors. It seems our Government is taking a very simplistic stand of PR rhetorics to stem economic issues. They seem to think that making Malaysians tighten our belts will solve the country’s problems without plugging the leaks. If so, we are so doomed.

Where is Malaysia Heading?
The man on the street only knows that his life has gotten worse. Less disposable income caused by higher prices cannot be disregarded by rhetorics or brushed aside as nothing serious is happening.

We see the country’s Government living in denial of the people’s plight and all actions appear to cover up over expenditure, carelessness, corruption and a misuse of power to stay in power. The latest being the MRT project trying to “buy over” parts of China Town.

In these days of celebration, there appears little to celebrate about. The increasing sowing of disharmony amongst Malaysians while spewing the 1Malaysia slogan like a bad word is making life worse and worse. Listening to Najib’s Hari Raya and Merdeka addresses seem to give credence that he is still using PR rhetorics to make the people feel good and make the problems go away. Its like telling a person who is being burnt that all is OK and the pain is not so bad. Najib must realise his PR antics no longer works. The reality is affecting all Malaysians now.

We need to put Malaysia first and rise above our cultural differences. If we all fail to do this, our future will be very bleak indeed.

It is not about 1Malaysia. It is not a racial nor a religious issue.

It is a nationalistic matter. It affects all Malaysians. It affects the future of Malaysia and our children’s future. It is because Malaysia is now competing in a global marketplace and we cannot ignore this reality.

So when policies and plans are nationalistic in nature, it must impact all Malaysians positively. We must view each other as partners for a greater Malaysia.

Let us celebrate Hari Raya together with our Muslim friends and National Day with all Malaysians and put Malaysia first and above all issues. We are in this together. For united we shall stand, divided we shall fall, as a country. No race or religion will lose if Malaysia progresses towards a developed nation status. Society advances together.

Then our 2011 celebrations now will be more meaningful going into the future. GE13 will also be more interesting indeed.

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August 9, 2011

Hidden Agenda to DUMC Raid?


In the course of the days following the raid on DUMC by Jais and the police, the general focus has shifted somewhat from the Bersih 2.0 electoral reform demands. Perhaps there is a hidden agenda for this action. There may be conspiracy theories in the midst of this chaos.

Theory #1

One possible theory may be that Umno needs to rally PAS to their side in view of the impending General Election which may take place in November this year. In order to do that, Umno needs to drive a wedge between PAS and DAP. That wedge may be a religious tension stirred to cause the perception of rift between Muslims and Christians. If that be successful by using the DUMC bogey, Umno will have a more than realistic chance of not only winning the General Election but by a much bigger majority. When PAS and DAP fights, Umno will win the day. Unfortunately, PAS has not only distanced themselves and condemned the raid, they are seen to take a more positive stance to handle the delicate situation very carefully and investigate first. PKR Khalid also treaded very carefully to ensure that there is no fallout in this strawman situation caused by Jais and supported by Hasan Ali of PAS.

Result: Umno failed to put a wedge between PAS and DAP.

Theory #2

Another theory may be that given the fallout of the BN Government on the handling of Bersih 2.0, there is a need to stir up something of similar magnitude to distract the attention away from electoral reforms. Umno and BN will not make any changes to the electoral shortcomings regardless of what Najib may say. To divert attention, there is a need of something equivalent that can attract Malaysians and that other strawman is religion. Drive a wedge between Muslims and Christians and there can be something explosive in the making. Hence, the DUMC raid and that action should amount to something that can stir the emotions of Malaysians away from their complaints of election frauds.

Result: Umno succeeded to generate some level of distraction

Theory #3

Finally, a last thought on this conspiracy theory. Can it be that Umno in general wasn’t involved and Jais operated on their own as influenced by some hidden hand inside Umno that wanted to further discredit Najib and further weaken his position within Umno? Our PM has been exceptionally quiet on this and implies that he wasn’t aware of such an action to further complicate his already very complicated position. As for PKR, it is acceptable to leave it to MB Khalid to handle to its natural conclusion for all parties to have clarity as to why this was done and if it had any basis at all.

Result: Hidden hands may not have succeeded but the attempt to discredit 1Malaysia certainly has caused some ripples.

So what can we Malaysians conclude then? Was it merely an overzealous Jais and police acting on a complaint that they can’t even verify first? Was it a genuine oversight of the Jais and police leadership? Or there was a solid basis for Jais and the police to act on?

For now, Malaysians can’t believe that it’s a genuine oversight. The conspiracy theories appear more acceptable given the course of what have transpired in Malaysia over the past months and building towards the potential downfall of Najib as well as the impending elections to secure more voters confidence in Umno.

This is food for thought, something to chew on and for Malaysians to decide for themselves what is really happening in our beloved country.

August 5, 2011

Out of Control in DUMC Raid by Jais and Police


Seems like it’s PAS turn to rein in mavericks like Hasan Ali or shut him down before he burns the party and ruin the hardwork done in Selangor.

PAS maverick Hasan Ali is at it again. Long accused of being more comfortable with his UMNO friends, the former Selangor PAS chief acted on his own, without the knowledge of his party, the Mentri Besar or the Selangor state government, over the Damansara Utama church raid.

“This is why we have asked for a full explanation from him because what has happened is very serious. We hope he understand this. He should have consulted the party, the other Muslim leaders in Selangor Pakatan but it looks like for some reason or other, he took it upon himself to handle the matter,” Khalid Samad, the Shah Alam MP, told Malaysia Chronicle.

(Read here)

In the zeal of enforcing anti-proselyting of muslims, Jais and the police have lost all sense of decency, protocol and respect. Is this the spirit of multi-religious harmony? Absolutely not!

Their latest act being a raid (although Hasan Ali says otherwise) of DUMC Thanksgiving Dinner where 30 people from Jais and the police barged in without a warrant, without telling what the complaint was and without any decency to act professionally.

MCA Gan Ping Sieu as well as Umno Khairy tried to deflect the problem to Khalid and DAP Teresa Kok blaming them for not making a public apology.

Jais and the police do not report to the Selangor MB but to the Sultan of Selangor. Jais appointees are mostly from Umno. But MB Khalid did the right thing to apologize and find out on what basis Jais acted. Although not Khalid’s fault, this happened in his state.

Instead, MCA shot themselves again and their rhetorics showed their foolishness not knowing how Jais and the police work under Umno instructions. MCA and especially Umno should make the same public apology.

In a nutshell
So, Hasan Ali should be canned. MCA should do better homework before pointing their finger and shooting their mouths. Umno should do well to check their slide in causing more uproar against themselves through sheer silliness.

Malaysia is fast losing the liberty to assemble, freedom to worship, and freedom to vote – all enshrined in the Federal Constitution. When the Constitution itself is not respected or manipulated or misinterpreted, the country will spin into chaos fast.

Either the BN Government must check the slide or Malaysians will check in Pakatan Rakyat in the next General Election. There won’t be any other options left.

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August 2, 2011

Umno Questions PAS but Never Themselves


Today, it is Umno’s turn to launch questions to undermine the Pakatan-led state of Kedah. This state is under PAS leadership.

This was what Mukhriz said:

PETALING JAYA – The rise in illegal entertainment outlets and massage centres in Kedah has raised doubts about PAS’ ability to govern the state effectively, said Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir.

Mukhriz said the growing presence of illegal businesses in the state contradicted the party’s claims that it championed Islamic values.

“Although the state government said these entertainment outlets were unlicensed, it has not held them accountable for their illegal activities. This has raised questions about the enforcement.

(Read here)

Given over 53 years of BN rule in Malaysia, did Mukhriz know that there are lots more illegal centers as he complained about all over the country, especially in KL.

So what has Umno done about it? If after 53 years they can’t do it, what can PAS do in 3 years?

This is not an excuse. PAS must work harder to govern properly.

But Umno has done it for 53 years and the situation is far worse.

Let not the pot call the kettle black.

We need action, not political rhetorics. Malaysians have enough of talk. Let’s see some action please!

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August 2, 2011

MCA Questions DAP but Never Umno


MCA has started a barrage of questions to undermine the Pakatan-led state of Penang, particularly directed at CM Lim Guan Eng from the DAP.

GEORGE TOWN, Aug 1 — MCA continued today to fire anti-Chinese accusations at DAP, this time asking if the Penang government’s decision to award only 0.2 per cent of state projects to Chinese contractors meant they viewed the community as “incompetent”.

“I want to ask (Chief Minister) Lim Guan Eng why, despite the many Chinese in Penang, only a mere 0.2 per cent of the total number of projects were awarded to non-Bumiputera contractors?

“Does the chief minister mean to say that Penang Chinese ‘tak boleh’? How can the Penang Chinese swallow this — that they are incompetent?” Penang Wanita MCA chairman Tan Cheng Liang charged in a strongly-worded statement today.

(Read here)

It is good for the MCA to play a good opposition party role to foster check and balance in Penang. But this has nothing of that sort. MCA only wants to make noise but perhaps that’s the only thing they can do today.

Have we ever heard the MCA voice such things in the BN Government they are a part of? Have they ever question PM Najib on the award of projects only to one community?

No, they dare not lest they be kicked out of the BN.

Whenever any of the BN component parties shout out their disgruntled dissent on the Pakatan-led states, it will do them well to first ask the same from the Umno-dominant BN administration.

Good check and balance is necessary to ensure proper governance but if the present Federal Government is not practicing then the country is in disaster mode already.

Let the MCA do their part to ensure good governance in the Federal Government, to question all questionable actions, to bring the country back on our feet.

Can the MCA do that? Or are they already a basket case?

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August 1, 2011

Samsung Galaxy S II: iPhone 4 Fighter First Class


The really sleek and powerful Samsung Galaxy S II

Following up from an earlier review (read here), I managed to get my hands on this “not-so-little” baby of a pda phone. I find the Galaxy S II in a similar looking packaging as the Blackberry, in a cute little black box which is not much bigger than the device itself.

That aside, I unpacked and spent a good week on it practically as my primary phone and here is what I discovered with all its beauty plus a few blemishes which I trust will be rectified soon.

My conclusion is this: A definite iPhone 4 Killer!

And here is why.

Bigger and Lighter

Immediately, the large 4.2″ Super AMOLED screen is surely attractive. Once picked up, the weight was far less than expected. In fact, it is lighter than the iPhone 4 with a larger viewing area.

Problem that men will have is that it will fit very well in the breast pocket of your shirt but not quite pleasant in the trouser pocket. These are the two places most men will place their devices. As for the ladies, they have no problem fitting it into their handbags, even a purse.

Usage Experience

The use of the Galaxy S II is extremely pleasant. It compares really well to the iPhone 4 too. The menu screen slides well as it changes with no lagging felt. The power graphics chipset in the Galaxy S II makes the device work so smoothly. Samsung has included their own TouchWiz UI on top of the Gingerbread OS 2.3. Both are available and you can switch back and forth easily.

Applications work very well. The dual-core Galaxy S II has all the power it needs to grant you a wonderful user experience indeed.

Application Suite

The Android Market still trails behind the Apple App Store. However, there are still many great apps that are already made available on the Android platform. A few fun ones include Angry Bird, GT Racing, Doodle Jump, Fruit Ninja to name a few. And the larger screen of the Galaxy S II certainly allows you to have more viewing space to play with.

As with the Apple iPhone 4 which one can “jailbreak” (not advisable) to install paid apps without iTunes, the Galaxy S II already allows “cracked” apps (not advisable too) to be installed without any problems using Apk Installer. If you find any Android apps from the Internet and you have been warned to attempt at your own peril, you can copy them to the /Download folder and use Apk Installer to install them. Easy!

(The reason downloading Android apps from the open Internet is dangerous because although you can get “illegal” apps, you also get bad apps that won’t work or worse still hang your device. But if you are the bold and willing to try, this is an interesting experiment.)

Once you are done testing them, you can easily uninstall from the Galaxy S II from the built-in Settings->Applications->Manage Applications or from the Task Manager. Android doesn’t hamper your freedom in this case. Again, you have been warned if you attempt to install without downloading from the App Market.

A few apps that deserve mention here includes SwiftKey X (excellent keyboard replacement), Papago! (for MalSing maps and directions), Aldiko (reader with bookshelf), ScanToPDF (photo in PDF format), ABBYY BCR (name card scanner), XE Currency (currency exchange info), PCM Recorder, Viber/Tango (free calls and sms), Profiles (ringing profile for different times), Go SMS Pro (an SMS app replacement), Polaris Office and a host of other free apps that’s quite useful. Although the number of apps are fewer than the Apple AppStore, you will find that there are quite adequate number of very useful apps that will complement your Galaxy S II very well to make it a choice device.

Fantastic 8MP Camera

The Galaxy S II comes with an 8MP camera and gives great pictures. To get the equivalent of the iPhone 4 HDR effects, there are 3rd party apps available like HDR Camera that gives fantastic results. Explore the App Market and you will find an incredible number of camera apps for your liking.

Certainly, with an 8MP, the video is first class. Even in dim lighting, it can produce excellent HD video at 1080p. Since this is not a pro-video camera, as all other PDA Phone cameras, you are best advised to take your photos or videos under good lighting so that you won’t be disappointed.

Challenging Battery Life

Given the larger screen, the battery life is one of the most significant challenges you will face with the Galaxy S II. You can’t have it all, I guess. Typically, the screen consumes up to 40% of the battery life. The GSM phone does not take up that much battery life unless you have long call minutes.

Basically, you get a decent day’s use of the Galaxy S II with a full charge at the beginning of the day. However, if you are an ardent user of Wifi or playing games during the day, note that both of these features will use up the battery much faster than normal.

Somehow, you will need a good regiment of battery saving techniques to prolong the life of the battery, even at 1650 mAH. Remember to turn off WIFI, GPS and 3G when you don’t need them. They will drain your battery faster than usual. Also, in some strange cases, badly programmed apps can also drain the battery. The Galaxy S II is a multitasking phone which means that apps will run in the background at the same time you are using it for something else. As such, remember to regularly check your Task Manager and kill off those programs that are not needed and not closed properly.

Temporary Drawbacks

One of the biggest downside to the Galaxy S II and purely because of Android is that it cannot join an ad hoc network. If you share your Internet from your Windows PC using ad hoc wireless setup, the Galaxy S II will not be able to connect. It is a known Android limitation but it will be fixed in the next release of OS.

There are workarounds available but it requires your Galaxy S II to be “rooted” or taking over the root control of the OS. You will probably lose your warranty by doing so. Not for the casual users for sure.

But if you are those who have a mobile internet plan,this limitation is not really a problem at all. Moreover, you can turn your Galaxy S II into an instant hotspot. This is standard with Android now.

Besides this one, I can’t really think of anything else that’s a negative for the Galaxy S II. Just watch the use of the battery and install Juice Extender if you have the chance and perhaps you can get a bit more out of the device. Keep the brightness of the screen to the minimum you can tolerate and that will work out really well.

Conclusion

I love the Samsung Galaxy S II and it does give the Apple iPhone 4 a definite run for its money. Yes, I daresay that the Galaxy S II competes head on with the iPhone 4 and very well too. Those who are not a particular fan of the iPhone 4 will find the Galaxy S II a MUST HAVE. It is now the KING OF THE PHONES amongst the PDA Phones in the Android and Windows class of devices.

There are rumors that Galaxy S III will be out in 2012 with a triple-core chipset.

With Galaxy S II, we have a Netbook on the palm. With the Galaxy S III, we’ll have a PC on the palm then.