Friday, November 28, 2008

Is it a war on Mumbai?

Gunmen armed with automatic weapons and grenades targeted at least seven sites in Mumbai late on Nov. 26 night, opening fire indiscriminately on crowds at a major railway station, the Taj Mahal and Oberoi Trident hotels, the Jewish centre, a hospital and an up-market restaurant frequented by foreigners.

Some foreign tourists were reported to be among the dead. Witnesses said the gunmen were very young, like boys, wearing jeans and T-shirts had specifically chosen US and British citizens to take hostage.

The attacks are the worst in India's commercial capital since nearly 200 people were killed in a series of bombings in 2006.

A group calling itself the "Deccan Mujahedeen", previously unknown, claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Maharashtra state’s Director General of Police A N Roy said around 100 people were killed in the precisely targeted assaults by small groups of gunmen armed with AK-47s and grenades that began around 10:30pm (1700 GMT). The latest causalities figure is at least 160 people were killed and more than 300 were wounded.

Hemant Karkare, chief of Mumbai police's anti-terrorism squad, was among the fatalities at the Hotel Oberoi, in addition, 11 other police were killed.

The death and destruction in Mumbai has upset and unsettled local Indians as well as foreigners about the safety in India's biggest city.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says the perpetrators of coordinated attacks on the financial capital Mumbai were likely based outside the country. He said he will tell "neighbors" that the use of their territory for launching terrorist attacks will not be tolerated.

For years, India blamed Pakistan's intelligence services for terror attacks. If a link between the two can be proved, then the tension between the India and its neighbor will increase sharply and deep into a crisis.

Some analysis refer as local attacks with a global impact and assuming that the attackers are militant groups operating in India, possibly with some level of outside support from Pakistan and were a carefully planned, well-executed attack.

Since the attacks, a number of people have been arrested, but the Indian authorities have still released no information about the identity or the background of the attackers.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

PAS flexes its muscles again

Selangor PAS intended to impose a ban on the sale of alcohol at 7-11 outlets, mini-markets and coffee shops, is the latest political action taken by Selangor PAS.

The proposed ban was controversial and highly objectionable. The disputes and differences emerging are to the disappointment of civil society activists and ordinary people. It was said to weaken the governing coalition and providing the opportunity for BN to regain its political battle ground.

PAS flexes its muscles caused coalition partners DAP appeared locked in open dispute. PAS seems without due regard to its fellow coalition partners in essence infringes on the rights of others in the state of Selangor and would be deemed as arrogant and uncooperative.

Undeniably, PAS ideology is conflict with DAP and exposes the tussle between secular and conservative in the Pakatan Rakyat alliance. It suggests a lack of understanding of Malaysian real politics and against the spirit which its leaders have agreed upon.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Social obligation to lower prices of goods and services

People are feeling rather uneasy with the traders because prices of goods were still high although the government had kept its promise to reduce petrol prices.

The prices of goods had gone up steeply soon after the fuel price hike in June but came down marginally after the government cut petrol and diesel prices. It is absolutely ridiculous that despite the progressive fuel price reductions, people are still paying steep prices for daily necessities.

Traders especially restaurants and food stores should have a social responsibility and obligation to voluntarily lower the prices of goods and foods in line with the drop in the fuel retail prices to enable the people to reap the full benefits of cheaper fuel in the country without waiting for the government to act.

It is unjustified that consumer associations leaving it to the government to monitor and overcome the problem of high prices of goods without lifting a finger to help, instead they should take the lead on protecting consumers from exploitation by traders.

Undeniably, consumers associations were very powerful and they should use that power to teach their members how to handle traders who sell goods at high or unreasonable prices.

Consumer should work together to shun traders who are profiteer and charge exorbitant prices for essential goods to ensure the prices to come down. They should boycott outlets and premises for not reducing their prices despite NGOs step forward and advice consumers where to shop and eat.

The price cut campaign on consumer goods initiated by hypermarkets should be extended to include retail outlets, sundry shops nationwide and all the traders.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Economy is good with low oil prices

Benchmark crude fell as low as $48.50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, levels last seen on May 18, 2005, their lowest levels in almost four years, as the market focused on the threat of a global recession and tumbling energy demand.

Is oil the root of all evil? After all, economy is good with low energy prices until proven otherwise. The interest is international which is sustaining the sustainability of the economy.

One thing that has been made very clear is that the sentiment of consumers and investors had been hammered by an unrelenting series of bad economic data in the US due to the surge in oil prices, the world’s biggest energy consumer.

Governments, businesses and consumers have slashed energy expenditures, which has halved the price of crude since record highs in July.

US motorists, stung by record gasoline prices, job losses and falling home prices, left the roadways in droves. The Federal Highway Administration reported Wednesday that Americans drove 10.7 billion fewer miles in September 2008 than a year ago, the 11th straight monthly decline.

The oil fell below as low as $48.50 a barrel also reflects that demand will be affected not only in Western countries but in China and India, whose rapid growth was also a major force pushing prices to record highs earlier this year.

Japan, the worl
d's second-largest economy is now joins the 15-nation euro-zone in recession, defined as two straight quarters of GDP contraction. For the first time since 2001, gross domestic product contracted at an annual pace of 0.4 % in the third quarter after a shrinking 3.7 % in the second quarter.

In the wake of the economy devastating destruction caused by the evil oil is by far unforgettable and unforgivable. Domestic and global pressures existed will lead at last to greater energy independence and automobile manufacturers to tout new, cleaner-greener technology or alternative energy.

Ironically, the car industry ought to build cars that use less gasoline and governed by rules that raise the fuel-efficiency standards on cars through existing technology-making more fuel-efficient automobiles or replace the use of oil.

The world has only two ways putting ahead, invest in the whole research and development chain through to commercialization to bring down costs for these new technologies and dependency on oil. Or still depending on the conventional technologies pay the cost of economy and political destruction.

How the world has wrongly presented space and military technologies. The priority concentration of effort put on space technology is by far unjustified and being taken advantages or abused of, instead economy.

The wind, solar and geothermal industries at last are growing by leaps and bounds around the world whic
h serves perhaps the best source and effective alternative energy.

Philippines, for instance, generates nearly one-fourth of its electricity from geothermal energy. By 2013, the country intends to increase its installed geothermal capacity by 60 %. And China has already surpassed its recent 2010 goal for installed wind capacity.

US intelligence forecast: China, India rising, but face bumpy ride

A new US intelligence forecast identifies China and India as rising heavyweights in a coming multi-polar world but says both face a potentially bumpy ride to the top.

"Although we believe chances are good that China and India will continue to rise, their ascent is not guaranteed and will require overcoming high economic and social hurdles," the report by the US National Intelligence Council said.

Titled "Global Trends 2025 -- A World Transformed," the 121-page report was released Thursday to stimulate debate and thinking as a new US administration prepares to take power.

It warned that US security and economic interests could face new challenges if China becomes a peer competitor with a strong military and a dynamic, energy-hungry economy.

"Few countries are poised to have more impact on the world over the next 15-20 years than China," the report said.

"If current trends persist, by 2025 China will have the world's second largest economy and will be a leading military power," it added.

"It could also be the largest importer of natural resources and an even greater polluter than it is now."

But it said China's economic growth will certainly slow, or even recede.

Mounting social pressures arising from growing income disparities, a fraying social safety net, poor business regulation, hunger for foreign energy, enduring corruption, and environmental devastation also lie in its future.

"Any of these problems might be soluble in isolation, but the country could be hit by a 'perfect storm' if many of them demand attention at the same time," the report said.

The report said India will probably continue to enjoy relatively rapid economic growth, but the growing gap between rich and poor will become a more acute political issue.

"Indian leaders do not see Washington as a military or economic patron and now believe the international situation has made such a benefactor unnecessary," the report said.

"New Delhi will, however, pursue the benefits of favorable US ties, partly, too, as a hedge against any development of hostile ties with China," it said. In a discussion about Japan, the report said its policies in the future will be shaped by those of China and the United States.

It said Tokyo would stay close to Washington whether it developed closer economic ties with Beijing or faced a hostile China.

But if the US security commitment to Japan weakened or if Washington moved significantly closer to Beijing, Tokyo would move closer to China.

The report also identified three potential up and coming powers, all from the Muslim world but not from its Arab core. They are Indonesia, Turkey and Iran.

Political and economic reform in Iran, along with a stable investment climate, "could fundamentally redraw both the way the world perceives the country and also the way in which Iranians view themselves."

"Under those circumstances, economic resurgence could take place quickly in Iran and embolden a latent cosmopolitan, educated, at times secular Iranian middle class," it said.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rafidah VS Shahrizat

The political power struggle within the Wanita Umno is unfolding between Rafidah Aziz and Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.

Is Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s decision to go for the top post in Wanita Umno indicating the fall of the Empire of Rafidah Aziz? This is the question that is awaiting answers whenever the political battle is on.

Ironically, the contest for the top post in Wanita Umno will allow the best leader to prevail. It also indicated that Shahrizat not adhering to the transition plan which was agreed in the Wanita Umno exco.

When deputy chief Shahrizat had garnered 73 nominations, she made the announcement to run for the movement's leadership which put up a challenge to Wanita Umno chief Rafidah who had garnered 117 nominations.

Obviously, politics is a game of numbers play by politicians. With the nominations garnered, Rafidah might seem to be remaining as Wanita chief. But politics is an art of impossible and nothing should be made impossible in politics.

Superficially, many Wanita Umno division leaders may seem to be supporting Wanita Umno chief Rafidah. But in reality, more than 80 percent of them are claimed to be supporting Shahrizat.

Is it a war of money or battle against money politics? The delegates who represent the grassroots will decide the leader that they want for the period of 2009 to 2011.

Rafidah was the Minister of International Trade and Industry before she was dropped from the Cabinet after the last General Election, despite retaining her Parliamentary seat in Kuala Kangsar.

Shahrizat, who lost her Lembah Pantai seat to PKR's Nurul Izzah Anwar, was made Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Women Affairs.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Acid test for MCA president

The acid test for MCA president Datuk Ong Tee Keat to prove his leadership quality and strengthening the party are the appointment of MCA minister posts.

The news reports that Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Ong Ka Chuan had tendered his resignation from his Cabinet post to MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat as hefailed in his bid for the deputy presidency trigger the speculation.

Although it is the prerogative of the president to recommend the changes to the prime minister, should Dr Chua be nominated for a ministerial position and return to the cabinet soon after being appointed as senator remains the question to be answered?

According to MCA party tradition, the four cabinet posts are reserved for the president, deputy, secretary-general and the vice-president who received the highest votes.

After the general election, MCA was allocated four full ministerial positions which are held by Ong Tee Keat, Ong Ka Chuan, Liow Tiong Lai and Vice-president Ng Yen Yen.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Declassified all toll concession agreements

All toll concession agreements have been declassified is a positive approach to tackling the sentiment of disatification towards the current government.

With declassification, the people can study all aspects of highway concession companies’ operations including financial flows.

Works Minister, Datuk Mohd Zin Mohamed said, all highway concessionaires, except the one for the Maju Expressway which oversees the Kuala Lumpur-Putrajaya highway, have agreed to declassify their concession agreements with the government and the documents could be obtained beginning Jan 1.

He said the decision to declassify the agreement documents was reached at the Oct 17 Cabinet meeting based on his ministry’s memorandum titled ’Re-explanation of Highway Concessions Operating to the Public’.

“The Cabinet agreed that the agreements be re-classified in line with the Official Secrets Act 1972 after getting agreement from concession companies as per the secrecy clauses in the agreements.

“After that, I directed the Malaysian Highway Authority (MHA) to deal with the companies to get their decision that the agreements be made public, except for one company,” Mohd Zin said.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Unhappy American watch more TV

Is the US financial crisis affected the economic performance and demonstrated the era of American global leadership is over?

The devastating economic crisis seems worry the American and caused unhappiness and it is proven by the research.

US researchers found unhappy people spend time in front of the television 30 percent more than happy people, according to media reports Sunday.

The finding, made by researchers at University of Maryland, comes from a survey of nearly 30,000 American adults conducted from 1975 to 2006.

While unhappy people spent more time in front of the TV, happy people were more socially active, voted more, read more newspapers and attend more religious services.

The study found 51 percent of unhappy people were more likely to have unwanted extra time.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Where is MCA heading to?

In spite of significant institutional reforms, MCA seems has yet to build a truly participatory democracy.

Ong Tee Kiat

The new leadership line-up announced by MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and the emphasis that the line-up is not meant to please certain group of people once again portrays his lone-ranger, almost maverick image.

Ironically, the appointment of veteran leader Datuk Ng Cheng Kiat as the disciplinary bureau chief, instead of the deputy president and he himself who doubles up as the Johor chairman clearly perceive the hidden political agenda that seeks to possess another person for his self-benefit purposes rather than the interest of the party as a whole.

The rationale that it was not MCA's tradition for deputy president to head the disciplinary bureau and according to party traditions, the party president has always been Johor state liaison committee chairman are neither justified nor acceptable.

Could he fulfill the obvious desire among people to see the reform of MCA and MCA to be more vocal to articulate the frustrations of the Chinese remain the interesting questions to be answered.

Undeniably, Tee Keat is only widely perceived as not popular with Umno due to his controversial, lone-ranger style.

He has crossed swords with both Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein Onn and his deputy Khairy Jamaluddin on several occasions as well as offended many Umno leaders along the way. It would be interesting to observe the impact after the UMNO party election.

In MCA, he exploited adroitly the differences of various factions in the past, and his survival skills are truly impressive.

However, other than uttering sophisticated phrases in Mandarin to enchant the Chinese-speaking crowd, he has not come up with any initiative as to how he would reform the party, not to mention policy changes in government

Can he mobilize in the fight against corruption is another question remain to be asked. Often, it simply waits for someone else to do it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chua Soi Lek was sidelined

The MCA political power games will drag the party to unprecedented depths once again and are the cause of political instability and internal crisis.

Chua Soi Lek

Although Chua Soi Lek who created an upset of sorts by winning the deputy presidency, but was conspicuously left out without a state liaison chairperson's post.

The former Johor state chief and Labis MP is unlikely to get a government post without a key party position other than deputy president. He was instead given a minor post where he is to lead the party's government policy monitoring bureau.

Although the appointments were the president's prerogative but this move is claimed to be unwise as democracy should be respected as Chua Soi Lek was elected as MCA deputy president.

Ong Tee Kiat

The major reshuffle was newly-minted MCA president Ong Tee Keat vacating the Selangor liaison chief post to Wong Foon Meng, while taking over the plum job of heading MCA Johor.

Could he gain the political support from Johor MCA is the question to be asked.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

China no longer to shun calls to shoulder greater international responsibility

China has long taken a low-key approach on international affairs, focusing instead on domestic issues. But some analysts say that given the current climate, Beijing may no longer be able to shun calls for it to shoulder greater responsibility.

All eyes are inevitably going to be on China. It's got all the money that the world needs. Whether China will use that money to ride to the rescue, and how it would do it, is the big outstanding question.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick said China is in a good position to have a strong fiscal expansion, a way to offset the effects of the international financial crisis.

"China is in a very good position to have a strong fiscal expansion. The Chinese authorities spoke of that aspect," he told a press conference in Sao Paulo, where he participates in a G20 meeting.

China benefited from the high liquidity in the global market in the last years, which proves that the injection of resources that is taking place in the financial markets can be, to many countries, an opportunity that comes from the crisis, he said.

The World Bank president stressed that the G20 debates changed their focus in the last months from the need for homogeneous fiscal policies to implementation of expansion policies in order to fight the threat of a global recession.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Is it the end of US Empire?

The superpower understandably wants to maintain the status quo of a uni-polar system in dominating the world.

Ironically, U.S. is the empire with the imperial idea of dominating the world. Will Washington felt the increasingly important role play by China in the world economic affairs post as a direct challenge to fundamental US interests?

"It is absolutely natural that China will play an increasingly important role in the world economic affairs," John Lipsky, first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said in Trujillo Wednesday.

Lipsky made the comments at a press conference organized on the sidelines of the 15th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum Finance Ministers' meeting. Lipsky said China, with its high economic growth, will play a more important role in the world economic affairs.

The IMF, as an international organization that oversees the global financial system by following the macroeconomic policies of its member countries, has acted as an emergency loan lender in the current international financial crisis.

Lipsky promised that the Fund would set up a new surveillance system to play a more positive role in tackling financial crisis.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Barack Obama became first black man to win the US presidency

Democrat candidate Barack Obama became the first black man elected Tuesday as the 44th president of the United States, writing a remarkable new chapter in American history with a campaign built on the theme of hope.

The Hawaiian-born son of a man from Kenya and woman from Kansas, whose promise of "change" inspired American claimed to shatter the last racial ceiling in US politics as the minority being elected leader is unthinkable.

Obama garnered 338 against McCain's 163 of the 538 Electoral College votes. He won 62 million voters (52 percent), while McCain has 55 million voters (47 percent).

Obama's historic inauguration will complete a stunning ascent to the pinnacle of US and global politics from national obscurity just four years ago and close an eight-year era of turbulence under President George W Bush.

His presidency victory would bring in a more inclusive; internationally cooperative US approach herald a balanced, and solving the Global Financial Turmoil have yet to be seen.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

RM7b stimulus to bolster economy of Malaysia

It was the recent overlapping effects of the Japanese and Russian crises that have been a major cause of the recent worsening in the global economic situation. The current economy scenario calls for urgent and exceptional action. Countries afflicted by the financial crisis have been forced to take their own measures to protect their economy.

In response to the global financial crisis, the government of Malaysia has also taken an active and positive role to address the problem by pumping RM7 billion into the economy. The RM7bil come mainly from the reduction of fuel subsidies.

Najib Abdul Razak

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak tabled the RM7 billion stimulus package to reinforce the economy, strengthen national resilience and to maintain economic growth momentum to face the increasingly challenging global economic climate.

"This is to ensure Malaysia's economy continues to grow and the rakyat do not come under too much pressure.”

He said the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would be revised downwards to 3.5 percent for 2009 from five percent this year.

Najib said the government will give workers the option to reduce their contribution to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) by three percent for two years beginning next January.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Voice to be heard in the new world economic order

A crucial role to play and the voice to be heard in the new world economic order is by far the ultimate objective of an emerging nation.

The question remains: Would the international bodies willingly given a say to China and oil-rich Gulf States in future new world economic order should they contribute to the International Monetary Fund's bailout reserves, despite its domination by the United States and the G7 industrialized nations.

Gordon Brown

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is leading calls for China and oil-rich Middle Eastern countries to be among the biggest donors to the IMF's coffers, which at $250 billion have already been depleted by emergency cash calls from Iceland, Hungary and the Ukraine totaling some $30 billion. Pakistan has said it may call on the international body for another $5 billion.

Ironically, it is believed that China and Gulf States will feel little impetus to bolster the IMF fund, given its domination by the United States and the G7 industrialized nations.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Najib won Umno presidency unopposed

Datuk Seri Najib has won the Umno presidency unopposed and will become the president and take over the premiership after the term of the current president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi expires on March 28 next year.

He won the post uncontested by virtue of being the only candidate having the necessary nominations from the party divisions to qualify for the election after securing 134 nominations for the post.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who has offered himself as a candidate for president, has received only one nomination so far, from his own Gua Musang division. With only 57 nominations available, no one else can garner the 58 nominations necessary to qualify to contest the presidency.

Najib will be officially declared as the new Umno president at the party general assembly scheduled for March 24 to 28 next year.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Serbia expels Malaysia's ambassador

Serbia's Foreign Ministry says the government has expelled Malaysia's ambassador after his country recognized the independence of Kosovo.

The ministry says the Malaysian envoy Saw Ching Hong has 48 hours to leave the country.

The move follows the expulsion earlier this month of Montenegrin and Macedonian ambassadors over their countries' recognition of Kosovo.

The former Serbian province declared independence in February with the support from the United States and most EU nations.

But Serbia refuses to endorse the split. It has asked for a U.N. court's opinion on whether the secession was legal.-AP