Thursday, September 9, 2010

Rocky's Bru on Thurs - Big Frog in Small Pond

Rocky's Bru: Big frog in small pond

Thursday, September 9th, 2010 12:46:00


HAVE you ever bought something on the sheer strength of the product's marketing gimmick?

I think I might just have. I purchased a copy of Tom Plate's "Conversations with Lee Kuan Yew" at the MPH outlet in Bangsar Village last night upon reading Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's sleeve notes on the former Prime Minister of Singapore:

"He is a big frog in a small pond. He is not satisfied with what he has. He had ambitions to become Prime Minister of all Malaysia .... But I think he will go down in history as a very remarkable intellectual and politician at the same time, which is not a very often thing."

Half an hour into the book, I realise that I might have bought the book half-expecting Dr M himself may have contributed a chapter, if only to indulge in calling Kuan Yew names or for him to admit that Lee Kuan Yew was indeed too clever for the Malayan politicians back then, etc.

Fortunately for me, the book has been a fairly good read so far, even though there has been no reference to Lee as a frog or a pond. You can hardly go wrong with Lee Kuan Yew, can you?

Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, the former de facto Law Minister and an Umno strongman when Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was Prime Minister, may not be so fortunate.

In June last year, he bought the idea that PKR was a political party that was different from Umno, the party he had quit in 2008 following a fallout with the leadership.

Now, just weeks ahead of party elections, he issued a Press statement that suggests that he is a man disillusioned with what PKR stands for.

"I joined a political organisation that was democractic, a party that was open to criticisms; not a cult organisation that idolizes their leaders all the time," he lamented.

Zaid is offering to run for the No 2 post in PKR, the party led by former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. When Anwar was Umno's deputy president and heir apparent to Dr Mahathir until his arrest in 1998, Zaid was nowhere near the top layers of Umno nor the government.

Zaid may be sincere or it could just be a clever political gimmick, but whoever wins the deputy president post of PKR could be Prime Minister one day. That's a fact.

If Pakatan Rakyat, the BN-like alliance consisting of PKR, DAP and PAS, wins the next general election, Anwar - not Lim Kit Siang of DAP nor Nik Aziz of PAS - would become Prime Minister and the deputy president of PKR would be in the running to become the deputy prime minister or one of the two or three DPMs (PR leaders have hinted that there will be more than one DPM if it rules).

His dream of an Anwar-Zaid tag team - and possibly his dream to become PM one day - is not enthusiastically shared by many in PKR, certainly not by those who are loyal to Azmin Ali, Anwar's long-suffering aide.

These people are bent on stopping Zaid from trying to deny Azmin a place beside Anwar. Zaid's Press statement was issued with these little king makers in mind.

Zaid clearly felt that this was not what he had signed up for.

"It's strange that they would react and behave this way. When I was accepted into the party a year ago, I was hailed as a hero and someone who is principled and brave, a political champion who did not care for position and status. Now, 12 months later, I have suddenly become a disloyal person, a shit-stirrer and someone who will sell the party to Umno. The personal attacks against me have been heightened. These remind me of the character assassination against me at the Hulu Selangor by-election, only then it was Umno which was whipping me."

Indeed, Zaid had been hailed by no less than Anwar himself as a coup for PKR and Pakatan. He had told a Press conference on June 13 last year to welcome the former Umno man into PKR: "(Zaid) is known for his bravery in defending human rights and the independence of the judiciary."

What changed? Did Anwar over-estimate the worth of Zaid in PKR and Pakatan, or did Zaid lose his lustre after his defeat to BN newbie P. Kamalanathan at the Hulu Selangor by-election last April?

Or did Zaid fall for a PKR gimmick when he decided to gamble his political future with past political enemies like Anwar, Azmin, Kit Siang and the others?

Zaid cannot afford another defeat so soon after Hulu Selangor, so there's always a possibility that Anwar would offer a face-saving solution.

Many doubt that Zaid would accept a compromise, though.

Because, while he's no Lee Kuan Yew, Zaid is a big frog in the pond.

Only, he may not go down in history as remarkably.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Rocky's Bru on Thursday -- Doing a number ...

Rocky's Bru: Doing a number with numbers

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010 15:51:00

WHEN an investor wants to find out if a country is a good bet, he first looks at the numbers, mostly macro-economic data involving the country's GDP, inflation and unemployment; its central bank's reserves; and perhaps the fertility rate, divorce rate, etc.

Serious magazines like the Economist and Fortune allocate pages and pages for statistical analysis and data compilation to help the prospective investor in his quest.

Highly-paid country risk managers and their researchers will then look beyond economic data and into the socio-political "numbers" that measure a country's freedom, the government's fight against corruption, political stability, race and religious relations, minority rights, etc.

The theory is that the more democratic a government is, the better the country is for the investor.

Something like "1,805 people died in custody" in Malaysia, therefore, is not good news. So is "Over 1,000 people are still being detained without trial".

And yet these are the numbers that some Malaysians have been cooking up and dishing out this past week.

The Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia group, which started as a human rights movement but has since made forays into partisan politics, claimed last week that 1,805 people had died between 2003 and July last year in our remand cells, prisons and detention centres.

If the group's claim is true, Malaysia is a most terrible place. Even the US, at the height of its 'war on terror', was a lot more restrained compared with Malaysia, if one compares the numbers.

According to one report, "nearly 100 detainees have died while in the hands of US officials in the global war on terror" between August 2002 and 2006. At least a third of them were victims of homicide and torture. Others succumbed to accidents, illnesses and harsh conditions of the detention centres.

On the other hand, according to official statistics provided by our Home Ministry, 147 people have died in police custody in the last 10 years since May 2000. For this year, the number of deaths in police custody is three so far. The highest in a year is 23 in 2003.

It is not a sterling record but certainly nowhere near the claim by SABM of 1,805 deaths in half that period.

Which makes one wonder: What kind of numbers are the people behind SABM trying to do and on whom? Where did they get their statistics from, anyway? The claim by Suaram that 1,000 people have been detained without trial is aimed at misleading.

Last year, it says, "there were nine detainees under the ISA". The fact is, there were nine people STILL being detained under ISA that year. There was only one fresh detainee — Mas Selamat, Singapore's terror suspect.

In the last one year, scores of people were released by the government from the ISA, a fact curiously downplayed by Suaram.

And just this morning, the local pro-Opposition sites are starting to quote the New Tang Dynasty Television, which reported Suaram as saying that "Malaysia arrested nearly 1,000 anti-government protesters in 2009, signalling ... a heightened intolerance (against dissent)".

Most of these ludicrous claims will stay unchallenged for weeks, perhaps months.

Sometimes, a fallacy is allowed to fester in cyberspace until it becomes, to many Netizens, a fact.

A good example is the tale of how Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak supposedly calling on the Malays to "bathe the keris with Chinese blood" during a rally in Kampung Baru in 1987.

This scene, which was made up by an anti-Najib blogger about two years ago, went unchallenged, and even made it into Wikipedia and a published compilation of the darndest politicians' quotes.

Banning these books, withdrawing publication permits and raiding media offices as means to fight the lies people write about this country will not solve the problem. Investors won't like it, either.

It will be far more effective for the government to churn out all the relevant statistics that matter about the country, including how many people were not arrested for staging anti-government protests, if necessary, so as to help paint the correct picture of our country, for the benefit of ourselves and not just the investors.

Friday, July 2, 2010

RBT: Journos and (some) Insecure people in power

Plus the Editorial by The Malaysian Reserve ....

Rocky's Bru on THURSDAY: Journalists and insecure people in power

Thursday, July 1st, 2010 14:06:00

THE last time three-time ISA detainee, the late Tan Sri A. Samad Ismail, spoke to me of the Home Minister who sent him to his last incarceration that lasted five long years, he simply said: "He put me away because he wanted to be the Prime Minister. He feared me. He used the Internal Security Act because he was insecure."

Samad, who was an influential journalist and close to the late Tun Abdul Razak, our second Prime Minister, was released in 1981 by Dr Mahathir Mohamad in one of his first acts as the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia. Tan Sri Ghazali Shafie never made it to the premiership and died in January this year.


THIS week, more than a year after Datuk Seri Najib Razak released ISA detainees in one of his first acts as our sixth Prime Minister, the proposed amendments to the ISA Act finally got the go-ahead from the Attorney-General's Chambers and will be tabled in Parliament soon.

The proposed amendments include the right to stage peaceful assemblies. "Treatment of detainees, detention period, powers of (Home) minister ... will be suited to the occasion," said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Huissein.

The anti-ISA movement in the country, which is demanding the abolition of the Act, won't be satisfied. But most rational Malaysians will appreciate that there's still need for a law that is able to act as a strong deterrent.

We still remember Al-Maunah, the group that wanted to take over the country by violent means. We remember Mas Selamat who escaped from a Singapore prison (no sympathies for him from the anti-ISA movement). We have seen what the "Reds" in Bangkok did that forced a whole nation to kneel, and the shooting of the general said to be one of the Reds' ringleaders was a reminder that violence is the only option to preventive laws, and violence begets violence.

And only in September last year, the Indonesian authorities succeeded in ending the reign of terror of Nordin Mat Top, the bomber from Malaysia. If Nordin had been incarcerated in Malaysia uinder the ISA, he could have been saved such a tragic end. He would have been rehabilitated and in time returned to society a "cured" man.

Most democratic countries have their security laws. Guantanamo is America's Kamunting and despite Barack Obama's ideals that helped make him President of the most powerful couintry on Earth, the facility is still there for Americans' own good.

As of last month, 181 detainees remain at Guantanamo. Don't forget, two Malaysians were detained at the facility as terrorist suspects.


THE biggest problem with the ISA, most will agree, is the power vested in one man — the Home Minister.

In the case of Samad, it was believed to be one man's call. In September 2008, an overzealous Home Minister ordered the detentiion of a youing journalist for 24 hours and later, in the face of angry criticism, said it was for her own safety.

It was not just abuse of power, it was a mockery of the Act that was meant to secuire the citizens of this country against the most severe threats.


THE same is true with the Securities Commission Act 1993, which bestows almost absolute power to the authority.

This time it's not even the Home Minister but the SC itself. The only thing the SC chairman can't do that the Home Minister can under the ISA is incarcerate her/his enemy for eternity.

The SC can, however, threaten to send you to jail for five years like they did to Samad under the ISA. Plus, or fined up to RM1 million.

That amount of money may be small to corporate players, company directors and those at the apex of their wealth. But to a journalist, RM300 is too much money to pay for a speeding ticket. So, it's as good as going to jail for the business journalists whom the SC have cited Section 134, if convicted.

We are certainly happy to note that the SC is finally waking up from a long slumber, and wants to be seen as doing its job. But let's be professional about it. Journalists have a responsibility to the community they serve and the SC must start to understand this.

But like veteran journalist Datuk A. Kadir Jasin said, journalists must now watch the SC's conduct even more closely. Is he hinting that there's something amiss at the Commission? Time will tell, but for now the human rights activists have a new punching bag — Section 134 of the Securities Commission Act.

Ahirudin Attan is group editorial adviser for The Malay Mail, Bernama TV and The Malaysian Reserve. He blogs at

What the Malaysian Reserve says...

THE uproar over the unpleasant encounter between financial journalists and the Securities Commission in connection to an investigation on the exit of Kenmark Industrial Co (M) Bhd's substantial shareholder Datuk Ishak Ismail has yet to fizzle.

The issue has raised questions on the capital market regulator's understanding of the duty of journalists and their need to honour the confidentiality of their sources.

The latter is a cardinal rule of journalism. At this point, the extent of which journalists are legally bound to follow a directive that could result in jeopardising the identity of their sources while assisting in investigations is still untested in the country.

To date, the SC had summoned four journalists, one each from The Star, Business Times, The Malaysian Reserve and The Edge, to give statements in relation to their write-ups about the troubled furniture-maker.

Malaysian journalists have generally been spared from being cast as scapegoats by the authorities, but the recent encounters with the regulator demonstrate that journalists can inadvertently be caught in the eye of the storm and find themselves at the ugly end of those who wield the big stick, for merely doing their job.

It was only right that editors of media organisations and the National Union of Journalists came to their defence.

Indeed, it was uncalled for and unjust if the journalist concerned was made to feel as if it was an "interrogation" and not otherwise.

After all, she was merely assisting in the investigation and not the one being investigated.

On its part, the SC maintained that statements from all the witnesses were taken by experienced officers and that it had full faith that they had acted professionally throughout the interview.

But that's not the end of it. A journalist from this paper was later directed to surrender her mobile phone for a forensic team to extract data from the device.

It is unprecedented for a journalist to be compelled to do so, as the act itself will put at stake the trust that the confidentiality of sources will be protected at all times.

The Centre for Independent Journalism was spot on by saying that the manner in which the investigation was carried out showed that the SC did not understand the responsibility and duty of journalists, which is to provide information to the public on matters of public interest and to honour confidentiality agreements with sources.

Granted, the SC can call anyone to assist in investigations into breaches of securities laws under Section 134 of the Securities Commission Act 1993. This is in fact what the public is expecting, especially in high profile cases.

But, in pursuing perpetrators of securities offences, the regulator needs to be mindful not to sweep everyone assisting in the investigations with the same brush.

Going forward, it is vital for the SC to strike a balance on how it exercises its investigation owers to enable journalists to maintain their professional ethics while assisting the regulator in the investigations.

It certainly does not benefit the SC if it fails to exercise its wide powers with great care or for the Press to retaliate by boycotting the regulator, as has been suggested, in the long run.

In fact, this expectation transcends the SC, as it is also applicable to other regulatory bodies and authorities such as the police, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and Bank Negara Malaysia.

This is certainly not the last time journalists will be summoned to assist in investigations. And, it is best for everyone to exercise their powers responsibly. We need each other.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

RBT: Taking the slum out of Kg Baru

Taking the slum out of Kg Baru

Thursday, June 24th, 2010 13:43:00
who wants

IF Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim did indeed come up with a plan 15 years ago to redevelop Kampung Baru without the Malays losing ownership of any of the land, the Federal government should revisit Khalid's work.

The recent proposal by the Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Ministry to jointly redevelop this Malay Settlement with non-Malay parties on a 60:40 basis didn't go down too well with the residents and Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin, the Minister concerned, has conceded that he is more than happy with 100 per cent.

Khalid and Raja Nong Chik are political foes but there are times when partisan politics should be put on the back-burner. After all, when Khalid did the proposal for the Federal government 15 years ago, he wasn't a politician and PKR wasn't even born yet.

Khalid was head of the Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), the BN-led Federal government's biggest investment arm back then. Now, even though he is with the Opposition, Khalid still believes that Kampung Baru should remain 100 per cent in Malay hands. Well and good. Who's to argue with that?

In this age when Bumiputra-Malays' 30 per cent equity share — as conceived under the NEP, now the New Economic Model — is often questioned and sometimes ridiculed, an Opposition leader's advocacy for 100 per cent should be welcomed. Let's hope Khalid will be consistent when it comes to affairs affecting his own State, Selangor.

Kampung Baru's redevelopment is crucial to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Politically, he would succeed in doing what his predecessors tried but failed to do (Khalid's "plan" was hatched when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was PM and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was his deputy).

Economically, the tenders and contracts will benefit businesses and provide jobs. Socially, and this, thanks to Khalid Ibrahim's support, too, the Malays will have the chance to own 100 per cent of a slice of KL that is as developed as the rest of the city.

The important thing to do now is to get the residents to agree to the redevelopment plans. Raja Nong Chik seems to have made great strides here. At his last meeting with the residents' representatives, the idea of creating a holdings company to oversee the development was adopted.

We can expect him to use the same formula applied to Kampung Kerinchi, another Malay settlement in KL, which will be redeveloped to add value to its assets. To date, only 18 out of the 500-odd families in Kampung Kerinchi are against the redevelopment plans.

Next step. Perhaps Naza-TTDI should be persuaded to relocate its proposed taller-than-KLCC building from Matrade to Kampung Baru? Naza, one of NEP's success stories, had its roots in Kampung Baru itself.

One big believer in the proposed Kampung Baru redevelopment is Datuk Mohd Radzif Mohd Yunus. If you were following the hostile bid to take over the Institut Jantung Negara (IJN) by certain parties back in 2008, you may remember that Mohd Radzif was the CEO then. This 52-year-old low-profiled operator was not keen on the takeover.

(So were a group of influential bloggers who initiated a "Save IJN" campaign to thwart the attempt).

The National Heart Institute was set up by Dr Mahathir to cater to all. The takeover would have turned IJN into a specialist centre for only those who can afford to pay.

Mohd Radzif is a product of this slum called Kampung Baru. He also believes it is time the government redevelop the land with residents.

If the idea of the corporation had come earlier, Mohd Radzif told friends he would have happily volunteered to be part of it.

But come next Thursday, on July 1, the former IJN CEO, whose sister and mother still live in Kampung Baru, takes over SME Bank as its new managing director. The bank's headquarters, incidentally, is at the fringe of Kampung Baru.

Ahirudin Attan is group editorial adviser for The Malay Mail, Bernama TV and The Malaysian Reserve. He blogs at

Sunday, June 20, 2010

RBT: Knowing what the right hand does

Rocky's Bru on THURSDAY: Knowing what the right hand does


Thursday, June 17th, 2010 12:38:00
Rocky Bru
WHEN the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing, the result can be quite hilarious.

As in the case of the DAP losing yet another assemblyman or Adun in Perak two days ago, the same day its Pakatan Rakyat (PR) partner Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) was boasting about three Umno assemblymen quitting Barisan Nasional.

Keswinder Singh

KESHVINDER: Now BN-friendly

The DAP Adun for Malim Nawar, Keshvinder Singh Kashmir Singh, announced quitting his party to become an independent Adun at 1pm on Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur.

The DAP obviously knew about Keshvinder's intention to quit and was trying to block it, which was why Keshvinder had to change the venue for his Press conference three times that day!

PKR, who is DAP's partner in PR in Perak, was oblivious to all this. That very morning, it was still teasing the Press and taunting the BN about three assemblymen from Umno jumping over to Pakatan. That would have tipped the power balance in the State in PR's favour.

If PKR had known what DAP was doing, it wouldn't have been a laughing stock that day.

Still, at least we had a good laugh there.

But not so in the case of Nazri Aziz, whose right hand quite obviously didn't know what the left hand was doing.

Within the same week, this flamboyant Minister in the Prime Minister's Department announced, firstly, a decision to scrap scholarships to send Malaysians to study abroad ("It's a question of affordability," he was quoted as saying) and, secondly, a proposal to build a new Parliament house in Putrajaya for a whopping RM800 million — and refurbishment of the current Parliament for RM150 million to turn it into a heritage building.

(With regards to scrapping the scholarships, Nazri had told a news website that the government's plans to redeploy bright students to study locally instead of overseas would help prevent a further braindrain of talent. "Sending students overseas causes brain-drain where some of them won't want to come back after studying there for a few years," he had said. But that's another story.)


NAZRI, SYED HAMID: Is the government's messaging system collapsing?

Back to the proposed new Parliament house: That's nearly RM1 billion to be spent. A question of affordability?

More like a case of communications breakdown. Or in the words of a young BN MP I met over lunch yesterday, "a collapse in the messaging system".

The right hand has forgotten what the left had done. Tan Sri Vincent Tan said he has been re-issued the licence that will legalise sports betting.

The Prime Minister said the government was still considering it, but this after Penang, Selangor and Sarawak said they would not allow legalised sports betting.

And why does the authorities use the term "legalised sports betting". Isn't the correct term "regulated sports betting"?

Similarly, why go with bankruptby-2019 scare tactic when the real message that Idris Jala, another Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, wanted to convey is that when the government cuts subsidies it would make sure that the poor will continue to get assistance.

As it was, Idris said late last month that if Malaysia didn't stop giving out subsidies — which amounted to RM74 billion a year — it would go broke in nine years!

And so, the whole first half of this month has seen Idris Jala's colleagues in the government disputing his assumptions in an attempt to salvage the situation.

Finally even the Treasury, which usually exaggerates numbers to make a picture look rosy, came out to shoot down Idris Jala's subsidy figures, the base for his bankrupt theory. It's RM18 million, and not RM74 billion!

So whose message do you believe — the Treasury or the PM's Department?

Back to Nazri, he was quoted on May 10 saying the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak wanted him to head the Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat or Spad, a new commission to look into the business of improving road public transport. Nazri also added that the PM had conveyed the appointment to him last year.

Many were wondering if Nazri wasn't pre-empting his boss with this statement.

Then last week, the government formally announced the appointment of Syed Hamid Albar as chairman of Spad effective June 3.

Is there a message here for Nazri Aziz?

*Ahirudin Attan is group editorial adviser for The Malay Mail, Bernama TV and The Malaysian Reserve. He blogs at

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rocky's Bru on Thursday, 10 June 2010, Malay Mail

Dinosaurs, 160x6 English teachers and 'Rachel Corrie'

Thursday, June 10th, 2010 12:42:00

RECYCLED materials are fine but not in the context of Malaysian politics and politicians. The other day, we heard a chorus from the Pakatan Rakyat choir chiding the Prime Minister for using "the same dogeared pack of cards" in his so-called "minor" Cabinet reshuffle and for bringing back former minister Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar, 67, to head the government's latest vehicle to help overcome the country's land public transport woes.

But that's the pot calling the kettle black. The Opposition hasn't fared any better and so, soon after their ruckus, we heard from the BN's choir about Pakatan Rakyat's own reshuffling using "recycled" leaders such as Datuk Zaid Ibrahim and Datuk Seri Chua Jui Meng.

In this case, both were ex-BN leaders who joined the Opposition after the last general election!

Surprisingly, there is a point here: Where, indeed, are the young Turks of Malaysia's politics? Are the below-40 not good enough to lead or is their rise being suppressed by their seniors?

This is not a BN or PR phenomenon. DAP's Lim Kit Siang, 70 next year, and Karpal Singh, 70 this month, and Pas' Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, 79, are in the company of MIC's Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, 75, and Sarawak's Pehin Seri Abdul Taib Mahmud, also 75, in the rise and rise of Malaysia's political dinosaurs.



FREE GAZA ICON: The ship funded by Dr M who has fought long and hard for the Palestinians

THERE was mention of dinosaurs at the Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (Melta) International Conference in KL on Monday. Raja Zarith Idris, the Sultanah of Johor and Melta patron, lamented the fact that "most Malaysians cannot speak or write well in English, compared to the ability and ease with which older Malaysians dinosaurs like us speak and write it".

Raja Zarith's crusade to stop the decline in the standard of English in Malaysian schools is well-known and her concern understandable.

"My youngest son goes to a local government school in Johor Baru, so whatever decisions and whatever innovations have been made, regarding the education of our children is of interest and much anxiety to me, as a parent."

One such "innovation" must be the decision to stop teaching Maths and Science in English, a matter that Raja Zarith didn't touch in her speech but which the conference participants talked about, nonetheless, among themselves and to anyone who'd listen. No doubt with the hope that somehow the government would do a U-turn, which is very unlikely.

There is talk, in fact, that the government is about to award contracts for the import of 960 native speakers of English under the ministry's plan to give equal emphasis on BM and English (MBMMBI or Memartabatkan Bahasa Malaysia dan Memperkukuhkan Bahasa Inggeris).

Under this policy to improve the standard of English teachers in our schools (some see it as an attempt to appease those who were in favour of teaching Maths and Science in English), 160 English native speakers will be made trainer-teachers spread out over six regions throughout the country (hence, the 160 x 6 formula) and act as "mentors" or "consultants".

The idea, perhaps, is to bring back the days when English in our schools was taught by the "mat sallehs" themselves. One may argue, however, that English native speakers during the colonial era had lived among the locals and understood not just their language, but also their culture, history and traditions.

Will the imported teacher-trainers under the MBM-MBI scheme be as good?

Raja Zarith did ask the question. "Which would be better? To have our local teachers teach it as they have done so for the past 50 years? Or to bring in native English speakers as teachers?"

If we do bring in the native English speakers to teach our children, the authorities must mind the gap that it will inevitably create between the foreign and local teaching staff. The 960 native English speakers, according to proposals, will be paid between RM8,000 and RM15,000 a month, besides the usual perks that has made Malaysia a haven for expatriates.

Convert the amount to euro, sterling or dollar and it won't be excessive, but with an experienced local English teacher getting RM3,000 to RM4,000 a month, we have a disparity in hand that will lead to resentment and discontent.

Unhappy teachers are the last thing this country needs.

JOURNALIST-ACTIVIST Shamsul Akmar, 46, who was part of the now historic MV Rachel Corrie voyage, was quite touched by the renewed and sudden interest shown by Malaysians, especially the politicians, dinosaurs et al, towards the plight of Palestinians and Gaza.

His wish is that people will remember how hard the former PM, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, was pushing to

get the Palestinians and Gaza their place in the world's and Malaysians' collective conscience.

After the Israelis hijacked Rachel Corrie in international waters just an hour away from Gaza, Shamsul and the others on-board the Malaysian vessel, including UN's former assistant secretary-general Dennis Halliday and Nobel Prize Laureate Mairead Maguire, were brought to Israel for questioning.

Even his interrogators, Shamsul said, were passionate about Dr Mahathir. The ex-PM's name was mentioned several times during his Q & A session.

"Your former Prime Minister, the man you work for, hates Israel, yes?!"

Press Freedom in America, ask Helen Thomas!

The "sacking" of America's iconic journalist

Read Mana-Mana's Waa, So Powerful!
This again illustrates that although they are separate entities, only a thin line separates the hardline Jews and the Israel state. An so powerful is the Jewish lobby in the west, especially in America, that anyone who says something seemingly unkind about Israel is bound to ultimately left with no choice but to apologise to the Jewish community, not Israel.

Same with those who questioned the holocaust and there have been quite a few.

The irony is that you can say something nasty about the mainly Muslim Middle-east and many things Islam, tear Iran, Iraq, al-Qaeda and the Talban to pieces and the western world doesn't think this is offensive but just one word against the Jews or Israel and they are up in arms.

Israel kills the innocent, imposes a blockade, ignores United Nations' resolutions, keeps nuclear weapons and god knows what else and that is A-ok but Iran has a nuclear programme and a fourth round of sanctions looks to be underway.

Taken from Tok Mummy

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Veteran Amerian journalist Helen Thomas quits over remarks on Israel

Reporter quits over Israel remark- Aljazeera

Thomas, centre, has covered every US president
since John F Kennedy [AP]

Veteran White House journalist Helen Thomas, who has covered every US president since John F Kennedy, has abruptly retired amid a storm of criticism over her controversial remarks about Israel.

Her retirement on Monday as a Hearst Newspapers columnist came after she was captured on video saying Israelis should "get the hell out of Palestine" and that they should go "home" to Germany, Poland or the United States.

The comments drew widespread condemnation with Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, describing her comments as “offencive and reprehensible”.

Thomas, 89, long considered the dean of the White House press correspondents, apologised for the statements she made on May 27.

In a statement issued over the weekend she said: "I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognise the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon."


In depth
A tough questioner and pioneer female journalist

The controversy prompted Thomas to be dropped by her public speaking agency and also led to the cancellation of her plans to deliver a high school commencement address in suburban Washington.

"Helen Thomas announced Monday that she is retiring, effective immediately," Hearst News Service reported. "Her decision came after her controversial comments about Israel and the Palestinians were captured on videotape and widely disseminated on the Internet."

Thomas was absent from Monday's White House briefing, where she has a reserved seat in the centre of the front row.

The White House Correspondents Association called her remarks "indefensible" and, before the announcement of her retirement, scheduled a meeting on whether an opinion columnist should have a front-row seat in the West Wing briefing room.

"Many in our profession who have known Helen for years were saddened by the comments, which were especially unfortunate in light of her role as a trail blazer on the White House beat," the association's board said in a statement.

Thomas became a columnist for the Hearst newspaper chain in recent years after working for decades as a White House correspondent for United Press International.

Read here: Helen Tells Jews to go back.