Archive for February, 2007

The time of reckoning a.k.a. crash came sooner than expected

February 28, 2007
Do you still remember what I have written about the KLSE CI on Feb 21 (barely one week ago) in this blog? The warning issued by iCapital was proven correct.I hope none of our bloggers were “burned ” this round.  God saves those who believed AAB “the punter” (the PM earlier predicted that the KLSE CI will break the 1350 mark pretty soon). Guess why he was keeping very quite these days. Those who suffered big losses these two days should bring AAB to courts as suggested by DAP SG Lim Guan Eng earlier. I am reproducing the posting from the archive here. Just read the highlighted portion if you do not have time…

Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

“KLSE CI is now only some 80 points away from its all time high of 1,314…

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

and surpassing this would seem to be a breeze.”

The above comment came from a local stock market specialist. But he cautions Malaysians to be more circumspect rather than exploiting the current market rally and be patting ourselves on the back.

He commented that “for the politicians and policymakers, stock market rally can be very ego boasting (when the market rallies, they would claim all the credits but when the market drops, they would pass the buck to people like George Soros).”

“Why?A stock market rally seems to be telling the whole world that everything is fine with its economy and that the government has adopted the right policies”.

“Generally speaking, this is true but the stock market rallies for all kinds of reasons and some times, the market rally can be self-deluding or what is worse, the rally generates complacency among the politicians and policymakers and painful but necessary decisions are not made or postponed until it is too late. Then, the market crashes. The Great Asian Crisis in 1997/98 is a classic example of how rallies in stock markets can camouflage structural problems until it is too late and the day of reckoning comes in full blast”.

The specialist opines that the way to manage a country or company is in a sense , very simple and commonsensical. ” When things are fine and dandy, do not become overconfident;instead get ready for the storms ahead. This way, when the storms come, which eventually they will, one will not be so wounded or so devastated that one cannot recover forever or that the recovery takes such a long time to come. The storms, like the bright sunny days, will eveuntually pass and the whole cycle repeats. Take advantage of the storms and and use them to ensure that the eventual bright sunny days do not get to be so blinding”.

The essence of this specialist criticisms was that the government under the leadership of the former prime minister implemented very short-term measures that greatly reduced or attempted to reduce the pain of the Great Asian Crisis. “In so doing, the government ignored the the adverse long-term implications of its actions and decisions. Instead of using the Great Asian Crisis to implement serious structural reforms, the government went for quickies. And we all know what quickies are like. Instead of using the crisis to prepare Malaysia for more and greater challenges, it went round blaming others for its follies.”

” In many respects, Malaysia has paid a heavy price for this and is still paying the price for ignoring long-term problems. By shielding Malaysia from the harsh and painful realities of market economy, we now have a Malaysian workforce that is hopelessly complacent and in the process, losing out to the many fast rising regional competitors.”

With the KLSE CI rallying, the specialist is deeply worried that our world-class complacency would become universe-class. “As the LKSE CI rallies, the politicians and policymakers would surely sit back and pat themselves for a job well done . Such self-prasing and complacency can be very infectious and soon Malaysians from all walks of life would fall into the same mental trap. Then, when the next crisis hits us, totally unprepared again. A few rounds of such a crisis, very quickly Malaysia would be in an economic quicksand”.

The specialist’s analysis is directed at the politicians and polymakers and Malaysians from all walks. Do not be seduced by the current market rally into thinking that we are on our way to developed status. Do not postpone the major structural reforms needed.

Stock market recovers after panic selling

Feb 28, 07 7:15pm malaysiakini
Bursa Malaysia saw panic selling this morning causing the stock market to shed as much as 101.07 points to 1,136.01 – the biggest fall in recent history – before recovering to close at 1,196.45.The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (KLCI) staged a late recovery, supported by strong buying from some institutional funds when the stock exchange reopened after lunch.Still, the index fell by 40.63 points, or 3.28 percent – the second day in a row in which KLCI was hit by significant losses.Yesterday, it shed 2.8 percent, closing at 1,237.08. The fall wiped out RM3.8 billion in market value of listed companies.

The last time the KLCI had its biggest single day loss was five years ago – on Sept 21, 2001 when it declined 3.5 percent.

Wall Street in tailspin

According to Bernama, the panic selling was triggered by the big losses on Wall Street overnight following the nearly nine percent fall in Shanghai stock market yesterday.

The Dow Jones index was in a tailspin yesterday, falling a whopping 416.02 points at 12,216.24 – a drop of nearly 3.3 percent.

This was the biggest fall since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and it erased US$600 billion in market value from listed companies.

All the regional bourses were down today, continuing yesterday’s trend, triggered by renewed concern over the slowdown in the US and China economies.

■日期/Feb 28, 2007   ■时间/12:40:19 pm
■新闻/财经前线   ■作者/merdekareview 陈慧思








全球股市相信是受到原油价格回扬影响,出现全线滑落的现象。由于美国对伊朗的战争一触即发,中东局势蒙上阴影,原油价格近日扳回跌势,持续回扬。由于股市进入了调整期,因此香港一家投资管理公司董事经理安迪(Andy Mantel)认为,香港股市下跌并非一朝一夕的事情尚有许多下挫的空间



OSA threat: Litrak prospectus contains key terms of concession agreement

February 27, 2007
DAP SG Lim Guan Eng has gotten the Prospectus of Litrak issued 11 years ago. He found that the  said Prospectus contains the key terms of the concession  agreement. He wanted the authority not to practise double standard and the authority should immediately drop the OSA investigations against Tian Chua , Dr Hatta Ramli, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and me.

Malaysiakini has the story…


07年2月27日 傍晚6:09




林冠英说,Lingkaran Trans Kota私人有限公司(LITRAK)於1996年发布的公司招股说明书已经公开有关大道合约的内容,而当时公布此内容的机构还有马婆证卷银行(AMMB)及国际投资银行Barclays de zoete wedd limited。
















Change the government if you want FOI Act

February 27, 2007
In my tele-interview with Malaysiakini, I said that declassification of toll agreements is only the first step. The coalition against the toll hike will continue to push for review of contracts and seriously consider buying back the highways and allow the people to use them free-of-charge. I also said that the Umno-led BN government is unlikely to adopt the Freedom of Information Act because they have a lot to hide from the people.


07年2月27日 早上11:12









“我们要质疑的是,为什么要付那么高的过路费, 政府愿不愿意公开合约只是其次的问题。”


































由34个非政府组织所组成的“全国资讯自由法联盟”(National Coalition for Freedom of Information Act)曾要求政府公布所有的大道合约、撤销对4名领袖的调查,同时制定《资讯自由法》来取代《1972年官方机密法令》。


A message to DAP leaders: Coming from “Penang voters”

February 26, 2007

Dear bloggers, do you share their optimism? Ronnie

Dear DAP Leaders, 

Please to forward you wonderful yet very inspiring photos. 

There are three inspiring message behind this photo. They are:

  1. Every record is breakable. Chinese said, “E san hai yeo e san gao”. Hope my poor Chinese translation you can understand. It mean “Whatever you can do, other can do it even better or whatever other can do, you can do it even better”.
  2. Nothing is impossible to a willing heart. If in the early 1980′ China said it want to build a building with 300 floor and 3 times the height of KL Twin Tower, people all over the world will laugh! Do you agree? NOW China has announce.
  3. DAP / PKR plus Government. Now people may laugh when people said the DAP / PKR may capture Penang and Sabah in next General Election. Who know in 10 years time DAP / PKR may be our Malaysian Government of the day. We hope DAP/PKR have the courage and vision to make thing happen as the rakyat know there is no hope at all with the current “saya tak-tahu” government.

1228 m , 300 floors@ Shanghai, China. To be completed in 2020.

Guan Eng, it is the right time you come to lead Penang and assist by current DAP state leaders. Please give Penangite a hope and sense of direction.

Napoleon Hill said, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.”

There is always a hope, if you do not give up hope.

Take care,

Penang Voters 

MoF II and PAC failed to answer questions on scandalous merger

February 26, 2007
Just because the Securities Commission (SC) has given its approval for the Avenue Capital -ECM Libra merger, so it’s “semuanya ok”. What kind of answer is this, YB Sharir? Who doesn’t know that AAB is the MoF as well as the prime minister of this country? ( And also the father-in-law of KJ?) You mean SC is not under the jurisdiction of MoF? What’s the meaning of conflict of interest? Come on, Sharir! And wake up, my fellow Malaysians!

ECM Libra merger: Dissatisfaction lingers in PAC

Feb 26, 07 5:20pm malaysiakini 
Second Finance Minister Mohamed Nor Yaacop’s explanation has failed to satisfy all the members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the merger between ECM Libra and government-owned Avenue Capital.PAC chairperson Shahrir Abdul Samad said the minister, during a briefing this morning, said there was nothing unusual about the deal since it obtained clearance from the Securities Commission (SC).”To say we are satisfied (of the explanation given) is not right since the PAC consists of representatives of various political parties. We all have a different degree of satisfaction.

“The government feels that since the SC had no objection and the majority shareholders of the two companies want to merge, then the merger should take place without any interference,” he was quoted as saying by Bernama.

The PAC, which has 14 members, is tasked to ensure government funds are well spent.

The ECM Libra-Avenue merger had raised eyebrows since when the deal was approved shortly after Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin bought a RM9.2 million worth of direct stake in ECM Libra.

This led to wide criticisms as Abdullah was overseeing government-linked companies (GLCs) in his capacity as finance minister.

Subsequently, Khairy was forced by public pressure to sell off his shares in ECM Libra last August.

Cabinet committee

Meanwhile, Shahrir said the PAC has called on the government to set up a cabinet committee to monitor decisions taken by GLCs, including Khazanah Nasional.

This would enable the government to have a “political oversight” over the running of these firms, he added.

Shahrir said there was now a dire need for setting up of such a committee as it could not only monitor performances of these GLCs, but also define their role in nation building.

“This cabinet committee could also monitor the concession given by the government to some companies and the performance of GLCs which had been privatised…we need to ensure that the government’s investments are handled properly,” he told reporters after the briefing.

Overall, he said, GLCs and Khazanah Nasional accounted for about RM114 billion in government funds, and since this was a huge figure it was only right that a cabinet committee be formed to monitor their progress.

“We already have a cabinet committee for high impact investment. But this committee only handles certain industries. We need a committee to ensure GLCs are on the right track,” he added.

Advisory role 

He said the PAC could not monitor GLCs because it had an advisory role and not a decision making one.

“We have a role to ask but not to decide…we do not execute decisions taken by the cabinet but look at the effects of the decision taken. If they slack (in the decisions) then we can advise them,” he said.

He said the proposal for the formation of a cabinet committee to monitor GLCs was because the PAC wanted the government to be more vigilant in tracking the performance of these companies.

Admitting that there were weaknesses in the present system of keeping GLCs in check, Shahrir said the drawbacks needed to be rectified as they involved public funds.

Commenting further on the briefing, he said various issues were discussed including the implementation of the New Economic Policy and employment for non-bumiputeras at GLCs.

“We also raised the issue of government companies which had been privatised but failed in their ventures…reviving these companies had required the government to fork out more money.

“We also enquired about government concessions given to private companies, which had been listed and since they are listed, foreigners can buy into these companies, gaining advantage of the government concession,” he added.

Either no boycott or a full boycott

February 26, 2007

In my tele-interview with Abdul Razak Ahmad of NST, I said the opposition must seriously consider calling for a full boycott to push for electoral reforms. But I’m not suggesting that the opposition should do it in the coming general elections because I believe the voters in general are not ready for such a drastic move. Massive and thorough education and awareness campaign must be done before pushing for a total election boycott like what the Thais have done last year.

I also urge Malaysians to give their ears to BERSIH to understand why the EC (SPR) functions and behaves like a component party to the BN ruling coalition.

Opinion: Little chance now of an election boycott

25 Feb 2007

The opposition’s threat of a general election boycott looks doubtful after the outcome of their ‘sit out’ in Batu Talam but it is not the end of the plan.

EVER since Batu Talam, “boycott” is a strategy few in the opposition seem eager to pursue with as much zeal as before.The decision to snub the Pahang state assembly by-election, which left the Barisan Nasional squaring off against an independent, was supposed to mark the start of something much bigger — an opposition campaign to press for electoral reforms, failing which a general election boycott was touted as a possibility.Despite those in the opposition urging constituents to sit out the polls, the voter turnout was 67.8 per cent, more than the 50 per cent or less that some opposition leaders publicly called for.

Spoilt votes — the other possible indication of a protest — totalled 384, fewer than what a successful pullout should have caused.

Was Batu Talam the end of the road for the boycott strategy?

Parti Keadilan Rakyat deputy president Dr Syed Husin Ali insists the by-election’s outcome was a success, not a failure.

Compared with the last general election three years ago, there was almost a nine per cent drop in voter turnout.

That, and a drop in the number of votes cast for the BN by nearly 1,000, argues Syed Husin, shows that the boycott actually did make headway.

But he admits things could have turned out better:

“At the ground level, it was not as effective as it should have been.

“There was not enough organisational and publicity work to make people understand what the boycott was about.”

Is a general election boycott on, then?

Syed Husin is non-committal.

“If the mood of people is such that they want to boycott, then we’ll have to discuss it at all levels and make a decision.”

Pas secretary-general Datuk Kamaruddin Jaafar is equally guarded.

“We just wanted to boycott Batu Talam.

“We never said anything about boycotting the general election.

“Until now, we have neither discussed nor considered it.”

So too DAP’s Central Executive Committee member Ronnie Liu.

“The DAP is keen on finding (other) ways to clean up and reform the electoral system. A boycott is not on our radar.”

A general election boycott may not have been a formal agenda for Pas, PKR and the DAP.

But the fact is that several prominent opposition party leaders did voice the possibility of a pullout from the polls, if calls for electoral reforms are not met.

This post-Batu Talam reluctance to explore the subject has some wondering how serious the opposition is about a general election boycott in the first place.

“Boycotting Batu Talam is one thing.

“Boycotting a general election is quite a different matter and needs a very different set of calculations,” is how Kamaruddin puts it.

Political analyst Wong Chin Huat explains the calculation as cost versus benefit — a loss of seats versus “the ability to force reform demands and challenge the legitimacy of the system”.

“If the opposition parties see the electoral process as flawed, and which they cannot win anyway, the benefits of boycotting will outweigh the cost,” adds Wong, who is doing his PhD on electoral systems and who participated in studies on the 2004 elections conducted by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Institute of Malay- sian and International Studies (Ikmas).

It’s hard though to imagine the opposition willing to risk losing seats in a boycott, especially when the parties have in fact been steadily gearing up for the next general election.

The DAP, buoyed by its strong showing in the Sarawak elections, recently tied up with PKR to make a bid for Penang.

Pas, on the other hand, is showing no indication that it’s letting up on efforts to make sure it retains Kelantan, where it has a mere one-seat advantage over the BN.

The party has also been working hard to reach out to non-Muslims, and the momentum of its efforts has been steadily increasing.

Just last week, the party officiated a Pas supporters’ club for Indians to follow in the footsteps of its Chinese supporters’ club.

Iban and Kadazan supporters’ clubs are also in the pipeline to gain support from Sarawak and Sabah.

This week, Pas is moving house to its new national headquarters in Jalan Raja Laut, Kuala Lumpur.

It will turn its present office in Taman Melewar into a training centre, part of what one party official calls “a capacity-building plan”.

In short, the moves DAP and Pas have been making are hardly those one would associate with parties seriously considering a boycott.

Bersih — a coalition of non-governmental organisations and political parties including the DAP pushing for electoral reforms — also has no plans for a boycott yet.

Pas strategist Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad, who is involved with Bersih, says the coalition is focused on three core demands:

• The electoral rolls to be truly cleaned up and updated;

• the use of permanent ink to mark the thumbs of voters to prevent duplicate voting; and,

• a cancellation of postal votes within the country.

But the extent to which Bersih will go if these three demands are not met is a mass demonstration, not a polls boycott.

Bottom line: As things now stand, the likelihood of an opposition general election boycott is slim.

Liu, who is also on the Bersih committee, says the only feasible boycott is an all-out pullout, the kind that opposition parties in Thailand mounted in April last year, alongside street protests that were part of a series of political events which ultimately led to the ouster of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

“That’s the only kind of boycott that will work. Everyone, from Nik Aziz (Pas spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat) to Wan Azizah (Keadilan president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail]), must pull out,” says Liu.

A Pas insider also agrees that for the party, a boycott is at present merely possible in the event of a “doomsday” scenario: For example, if Pas, on the eve of the next general election, realises that its chances — for whatever reasons — have become virtually nil.

Interestingly, it isn’t the possibility of losing Kelantan that’s keeping the option of a boycott alive for Pas.

“Pas is confident it has a fighting chance of retaining Kelantan. A possible boycott is actually related to our chances of making headway to re-capturing Terengganu, our number two priority state. We feel it can only happen if the three primary reform demands are met,” says the insider.

Whether the opposition has a case, and whether electoral changes would increase the opposition’s chances, remain hotly debated topics.

But even in the event that a boycott fails to materialise, the whole brouhaha over pulling out may not have been for nothing.

Few noticed, but the push for election reforms has been the first real inter-party platform for co-operation between Pas and the DAP.

Both have not been on friendly terms with each other after the 1999 general election due to the DAP’s rejection of Pas’ Islamic state ambitions.

“The Batu Talam boycott didn’t achieve the expected results, but it provided the first effective forum for Pas and DAP to work together,” says the Pas member.

“The fact is that Pas and DAP have been trading potshots and have not really been able to sit on the same stage or see eye-to-eye on many things. This campaign is changing all that,” he adds.

Ironically, unity may well be where the whole threat of pulling out of the polls ends up: Opening the door for Pas and DAP to re-heat their frosty ties and mount a unified opposition challenge to the BN in the coming general election.


Boycott only possible in a ‘doomsday’ scenario


“That’s the only kind of boycott that will work. Everyone, from Nik Aziz (Pas spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat) to Wan Azizah (Keadilan president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail]), must pull out,” says Liu.

A Pas insider also agrees that for the party, a boycott is at present merely possible in the event of a “doomsday” scenario: For example, if Pas, on the eve of the next general election, realises that its chances — for whatever reasons — have become virtually nil.

Interestingly, it isn’t the possibility of losing Kelantan that’s keeping the option of a boycott alive for Pas.

“Pas is confident it has a fighting chance of retaining Kelantan.

“A possible boycott is actually related to our chances of making headway to recapturing Terengganu, our number two priority state. We feel it can only happen if the three reform demands are met,” says the insider.

Whether the opposition has a case, and whether electoral changes would increase the opposition’s chances, remain hotly debated topics.

But even in the event that a boycott fails to materialise, the whole brouhaha over pulling out may not have been for nothing.

Few noticed, but the push for election reforms has been the first real inter-party platform for co-operation between Pas and the DAP.

Both have not been on friendly terms with each other after the 1999 general election due to the DAP’s rejection of Pas’ Islamic state ambitions.

“The Batu Talam boycott didn’t achieve the desired results, but it provided the first effective forum for Pas and DAP to work together,” says the Pas member.

“The fact is that Pas and DAP have been trading potshots and have not really been able to sit on the same stage or see eye-to-eye on many things. “This campaign is changing all that.”

Ironically, unity may well be where the whole threat of pulling out of the polls ends up: Opening the door for Pas and DAP to reheat their frosty ties and mount a unified opposition challenge to the BN in the next general election.

OSA threat : Kit Siang asked Samy to halt OSA investigations

February 26, 2007

New Straits Time has the story…

Lim: Say sorry and be a saint

26 Feb 2007

KUALA LUMPUR: Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu can transform himself from “Dracula” into a saint if he makes a public apology, opposition leader Lim Kit Siang said.

Lim said Samy Vellu should apologise “for his earlier ‘bloodthirstiness’ in demanding that four opposition leaders be jailed for at least one year for blowing the whistle about the lopsided Litrak LDP concession”.Lim said this in a statement yesterday in reaction to the Works Minister’s interview in the New Sunday Times.Samy Vellu had attributed his outburst about not being “the bad boy” of tolls to the opposition leader using the word “bloodthirsty” in reference to him and toll hikes.

“He was indirectly saying I’m a Dracula. Only a Dracula goes for blood,” he said in the interview.

Lim said Samy Vellu should push for the Official Secrets Act investigation against the four opposition leaders over the toll concession to be halted.

The four opposition leaders Lim was refering to are: Pas treasurer Dr Hatta Ramli, Parti Keadilan Rakyat treasurer Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, Keadilan information chief Tian Chua and Ronnie Liu, who heads the DAP’s bureau on non-governmental organisations.

The four were said to have announced that the government had guaranteed profits to Litrak, the concessionaire for the Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong, in the agreement.

Under Section 8 of the OSA, a conviction for an offence carries a maximum jail term of 12 months.

Lim said yesterday that “Dracula” had not entered his mind when in his statement last Feb 3 he had demanded to know why Samy Vellu was “suddenly so bloodthirsty” as to demand opposition leaders be jailed.

Meawhile, DAP Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran called on Samy Vellu not to interfere in the DAP’s affairs.

“There is no necessity for catching up in the DAP among party members. I am Kula and he is Karpal. We don’t need outsiders to advise us,” Kulasegaran said in reference to Samy Vellu’s observation on the DAP in relation to the MIC.

Samy Vellu had told the New Sunday Times: “No other Indian can come up in the DAP. Karpal Singh (DAP chairman) is very strong, that’s how he has survived. And M. Kulasegaran is trying to catch up with Karpal. Wherever they contest, we know how to deal with them.”

Kulasegaran said instead of griping about the DAP, Samy Vellu should think about renewal in the MIC leadership.

OSA threat: Law professor speaks his mind

February 26, 2007

26/02: Government’s might vs citizens’ right

 Outside the Bukit Aman PDRM Headquarters after giving statements on OSA investigation.

Category: General

Posted by: Raja Petra

The ban on disclosure of road toll deals between the Government and the concessionaires raises interesting constitutional issues.

By Shad Faruqi
The Star

A FEW weeks ago four opposition politicians were questioned by the police for disclosing confidential contents of highway toll agreements between the Government and private concessionaires.

Several citizens’ groups including Transparency International were quick in expressing concern about the use of the Official Secrets Act in this situation. It was argued, and rightly so, that the imperatives of good government demand more openness in government and protection for whistle-blowers.

Those who act in the public interest to expose corrupt practices in government should be viewed as public benefactors, and not as criminals.

Public law issues

From the perspective of constitutional and administrative law, the toll deals between the Government and the concessionaires draw our attention to the following engaging issues of constitutionalism and good governance.

·What is the extent of freedom of speech and expression under the Constitution, and the corresponding power of Parliament to enact laws like the Official Secrets Act to impose restrictions on this fundamental right?

·Does the law relating to “government secrets” as contained in the Official Secrets Act give to the Government unfettered discretionary power to suppress any or all information in the public sector?

·Is there legal basis to the Minister’s claim that though the Prime Minister and the Cabinet are willing to de-classify the concession agreements, the prior consent of the concessionaires is required?

Article 10(1)

Article 10(1) (a) states that “every citizen has the right to freedom of speech and expression”. There is no elaboration of the exact scope of this freedom or its constituent parts. Specifically, there is no mention of freedom of the press or freedom of the electronic media.

In constitutional law, however, it is generally understood that the right to freedom of speech and expression is a combination of many rights in many forms.

Communication by word of mouth, signs, symbols and gestures and through works of art, music, sculpture, photographs, films, video, books, magazines and newspaper are all part of free speech. In India, a long line of cases has upheld the notion that freedom of speech and expression includes freedom of the press.

Advertisements are part of constitutionally protected free speech if they express ideas or promote human thought. But in India a commercial advertisement having an element of trade and commerce and promoting business is outside the Constitution’s protection.

Even “symbolic speech” like the manner of one’s dressing and grooming can be treated as part of one’s freedom of expression. In the US, flag burning has been treated as an expression of free speech protected by the Constitution: Texas v Gregory Lee Johnson (1989).

The guarantee of free speech covers not only the political but also the artistic and aesthetic field. It is available not only to natural persons who are citizens but also to legal persons like companies, corporations and statutory bodies if they are incorporated or established under Malaysian law.

Does Article 10(1) (a) include the right of access to information? The position is not entirely clear. In India, the Bennet Coleman case suggests that freedom of the press includes the right of the people to read. But in Singapore Justice Chan in Dow Jones Publishing v AG (1989) stated that the right of access to information is not part of the guarantee of freedom of speech.

Restrictions on free speech

The Constitution, in Article 10(2)(a) authorises Parliament to impose restrictions on free speech on the following eight grounds: national security, friendly relations with other states, public order, morality, privileges of Parliament and of any State Assembly, contempt of court, defamation and incitement to any offence.

In addition, Article 10(4) prohibits the questioning of citizenship rights, status of the Malay language, privileges of Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak, and prerogatives of the Sultans.

Freedom of expression can also be restricted by laws relating to subversion under Article 149 and emergency laws under Article 150. All in all, Parliament has authority to abridge free speech on 14 constitutionally permissible grounds. These grounds are indeed very broad. Nevertheless they do draw some lines beyond which Parliament cannot transgress.

Theory vs reality

The legal and political reality is, however, very different. A plethora of parliamentary laws imposes a blanket ban on freedom of expression even if the constitutionally enumerated grounds (like national security) are not involved.

For example the Statutory Bodies (Discipline & Surcharge) Act prohibits employees from making any critical comment about government policies. The Printing Presses and Publications Act vests the Minister with “absolute discretion” in relation to licences and permits.

Section 13A declares that “any decision of the Minister to refuse to grant or to revoke or to suspend a license or permit shall be final and shall not be called in question by any court on any grounds whatsoever.”

Judicial review

Can judges examine the constitutionality of laws or executive actions that impose restrictions on free speech?

It is conceded that Parliament’s power to restrict free speech is indeed very broad. But the power is not limitless. Any restrictive law or executive action must fall within one of the fourteen permissible grounds or fit into one of the constitutional pigeon-holes enumerated earlier. Otherwise judicial review is a distinct possibility.

In Madhavan Nair v PP (1975), Justice Chang Min Tat said: “Any conditions limiting the exercise of the fundamental right to the freedom of speech not falling within the four corners of Article 10 Clause (2), (3) and (4) of the Federal Constitution cannot be valid.

“No power, statutory or otherwise, can be exercised so as to contravene an article of the Constitution.”

Similarly, in Persatuan Aliran v Minister (1988), the Court accepted the principle that the Minister’s absolute discretion was subject to judicial review.

In conclusion, it is submitted that despite the wide powers conferred on Parliament by Article 10 clauses (2) and (4), provisions of the fifty-or-so statutes which directly or indirectly impinge on freedom of speech can all be tested by the yardstick of the Federal Constitution.

The courts are the repository of this power of review. They have the duty to give life to the Constitution; to make our basic law the chart and compass and the sail and anchor of all governmental action.

The writer, Dr Shad Faruqi, is Professor of Law at UiTM.

The scandolous Avenue Capital-ECM Libra merger

February 25, 2007

For those bloggers who want to know more about the scandalous merger between Avenue Capital and ECM Libra, I urge you to read this article by Ibnu Hakeem carefully. If you have time (and also understand Malay Language), pls also read the comments.

Khairy Jamaluddin  sold his shares in ECM Libra after TDM’s attack at a loss. He also announced openly that he will go into politics full time since he has lost his job. His recent statements on issues such as “marginalisation of the Penang Malays”, ” 60% target for bumi equity” and ” Mat Rempits were ok” have stirred up grave concern among many Malaysians esp the non-Malay communities.

I have categorised this article picked up from Malaysia-Today under “Abuse of Power, Corruption, Leakage, Governance” not without good reasons.

Can you spot the famous SIL in the picture?


25/02: Remember the ECM Libra-Avenue Capital debacle?

Category: General

Posted by: Raja Petra


Ibnu Hakeem

Government sources who are fed up with the Government cover-ups say that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will be revisiting the controversial ECM Libra Bhd-Avenue Capital merger which came to the fore in August last year. The PAC will be reconvening at 9:30 am on Monday, 26th February 2007 at Parliament House.

This time around, Second Finance Minister Nor Mohamed Yakcop will be called to give testimony over this controversial merger. Sources expect a choreographed performance. Nor Mohamed Yakcop is expected to speak in general terms about the Government’s investment and divestment policies over its own assets, hence diluting attention from the more pressing questions regarding the controversial merger which have not yet satisfied public opinion.

The PAC last spoke on the matter in August 2006 but without any satisfactory conclusion. The controversy over this merger arose after it became known that the relatively unknown – up to that time – ECM Libra had swallowed up the gargantuan taxpayer-owned company, Avenue Capital, which had a cash hoard of RM3 billion in its reserves.

The shareholders of ECM Libra include Kalimullah Maseerul Hassan, who hails from the riverbank at Maslampatti, Azamgard in Uttar Pradesh, India, who is the Prime Minister’s chief ‘cheerleader’ and also Khairy Jamaluddin – the Prime Minister cum Finance Minister’s son-in-law. It is widely believed that the merger was brought to a super quick conclusion without approval from the Cabinet or even from any Minister.

Speaking on the controversy in August last year, PAC Chairman Shahrir Samad was quoted in the media as saying the merger between ECM Libra and Avenue raised troubling questions. Shahrir had said, “In principle, there is a conflict of interest if the minister’s family member is involved. But here, maybe there was no minister’s consent because the matter was not brought to the cabinet – it was decided between the ministry’s officials and the party which made the offer.”

Even more perplexing were the media reports that ECM Libra took over Avenue Capital without any cash outlay. To sweeten the merger further there was also a valuation of ‘goodwill’ to the amount of RM360 million. The danger in valuing ‘goodwill’ is that it is an intangible asset which can be hyped up to be worth more than its inherent value.

To date, the PAC has refrained from making any public statement about this RM360 million goodwill. The result of this transaction is that the minnow, ECM Libra, has ended up swallowing a whale, Avenue Capital. The greatest mystery is who exactly approved this sale of a prized taxpayer-owned asset to a company that is owned by the Prime Minister’s chief ‘cheerleader’ as well as his son-in-law? Till today, this question remains strangely unanswered – even by the PAC.

Civil Servants do not and cannot make decisions to sell companies with RM3 billion in cash assets all by themselves. Even a KSU (Ketua Setiausaha) will not make a decision to sell Avenue Capital to a private company unless he has received specific approvals from the Minister of Finance. Since the Minister of Finance is Abdullah Badawi, there is a clear cut conflict of interest if he approved the sale. The approvals should also not come from the Second Finance Minister because he has little or no authority to approve such transactions either.

Therefore the PAC should make public just who exactly approved for the sale of a government prized asset with RM3 billion in cash reserves to a private company owned at that time by Kalimullah and Khairy? Just how did it happen? If the Cabinet, the Minister of Finance, the Second Finance Minister, or the KSU, did not approve the sale then was it approved by a Chief Clerk? The public wants to know and the Public Accounts Committee is obligated to tell.

At that time, Khairy Jamaludin, who is also Umno Youth deputy chief, clarified that he borrowed money to buy a substantial stake in the ‘fledging’ (at that time only) financial advisory company ECM-Libra. This was before the merger with Avenue Capital. According to Bernama, Khairy had said, “I borrowed the money … everything is loaned, not my own money. Luckily, there are people who want to give loans (to me). I took a loan from them (ECM-Libra) who sold their shares to me.”

Exchange filings showed that Khairy bought 13 million shares in ECM Libra at 71 cents per share in three separate transactions from acquaintance and ECM-Libra’s chairman, Kalimullah Masheerul Hassan, chief executive officer, Lim Kian Onn, and chief operating officer, Chua Ming Huat. Khairy was made a director of ECM-Libra in July 2004, not long after his father-in-law, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, became Prime Minister. Later, after the controversy broke, Khairy sold some of his shares in ECM Libra.

ECM Libra is also a Financial Institution (a so-called investment bank), which means it is also under the purview of the BAFIA (Banking and Financial Institutions Act). Since Khairy Jamaluddin has publicly admitted to taking a loan from ECM Libra to buy its own shares, the PAC should assure the public about this aspect of the transaction too.

Like all good UMNO members, PAC Chairman Datuk Shahrir Samad is a staunch supporter of Abdullah Badawi. Said Shahrir’s brother, Khalid, there is no other man Shahrir hates more than Mahathir and he would do anything to oppose Mahathir, even supporting those Mahathir do not like just out of spite. No wonder then that Abdullah Badawi would get the PAC’s backing on this matter if it serves to upset Mahathir. Kalimullah Maseerul Hassan, on the other hand, owns a house in London and has already sent his children to school in Britain. Abdullah Badawi has been told by the security chief that Kalimullah is bad news and has failed the security agency’s security clearance but the Prime Minister just brushed it off and said, “He is my friend.”

How, in light of all this, will Shahrir and the PAC come in with an untainted verdict?


muftimurtad2007 wrote:

Part 1 from Yahoo Search
Oleh Anak Malaysia

Berhubung dengan perkara, saya telah masuk laman dan muat turun Akaun Tahunan untuk Avenue dan ECM bagi 2004 dan 2005, Keputusan Kewangan Suku Tahun mutakhir, dokumen penggabungan dan nasihat dari Penasihat Bebas (Independent Adviser), K&N Kenanga.

Mungkin tidak disedari penulis, saya dapati kesilapan data dalam thread perbandingan kewangan ECM dan Avenue di KMU kerana ECM tidak menggunakan Aset Ketara Bersih Sesaham (Net Tangible Asset per share) (NTA) sebanyak RM1.34 tetapi Aset Bersih (Net Asset) (NA) sebanyak sedemikian. Keadaan pernilaian sebenarnya lebih teruk dari yang disedari.
Ini sangat anih kerana bukan menjadi amalan untuk menghebahkan nilai selain dari NTA dan EPS (Perolehan Sesaham) sebagai asas petunjuk nilai sesaham syarikat. Kenapa SC dan Bursa benarkan kelainan (exception) ini kepada ECM?
Dengan menggunakan Aset Bersih, maka Aset Tidak Ketara seperti “goodwill” diambil kira dalam nilai saham. Saya tidak pandai nak terangkan “goodwill” secara mudah tetapi memang kebiasaan akaun ada item ini untuk mengambil kira Aset Tidak Ketara (Non Tangible Asset) seperti jenama (brand), lesen, tambahan nilai dari “account consolidation”, dll. Tetapi “goodwill” adalah terlalu subjektif dan tidak menjadi isu utama.

Saya dapati Avenue sudah menolak RM251.26 juta dari item “goodwill” pada tahun 2004. Ini tidak disedari dan tidak tertera dalam dokumen penggabungan yang hanya lebih kepada perkara masakini. Disebaliknya, ECM Libra masih menunjukkan “goodwill” didalam asetnya sebanyak RM360.8 juta didalam akaun tahun 2005 berakhir 31-3-2005.

Nilai dan NA Avenue sudah tentu tersusut sebanyak RM250 juta pada tahun 2004. Manakala, “goodwill” yang tertimbul dalam akaun ECM Libra pada tahun 2004 (dari proses penyenaraian jalan belakang South Peninsular Industries Berhad pada tahun tersebut) tidak di “write-off” seperti dilakukan Avenue. Ini mengekalkan sebanyak RM360 juta dalam nilai dan NA ECM. Akibat dari helah akaun ini, ECM dapat kelebihan nilai sebanyak RM610 juta.!

Selain itu, kalau dikira balik kepada akaun terakhir, NTA ECM hanya RM0.15 berbanding RM0.91 untuk Avenue. Bermakna Nisbah Harga Saham kepada NTA sesaham ECM adalah 7 kali! Kalau syarikat hartanah boleh meletakkan nisbah yang tinggi kerana keupayaan mempertingkatkan nilai Aset Ketara tetapi tidak sesuai untuk syarikat kewangan/pelaburan.

Jika diandaikan, nilai saham ECM adalah mengikut kebiasaan setinggi 2 kali NTA, nilai saham ECM ikut cara NTA hanyalah 30 sen sesaham! Tidak lah pada harga RM1.06 yang ditetapkan dan di persetujui SC.

samb Part 2

25/02 11:58:29

muftimurtad2007 wrote:

Part 2
Avenue yang mempunyai NTA RM0.91 dan nilai terkini RM1.00 sesaham tidak boleh lah di isu saham kepada pemegang saham ECM pada RM0.66 sesaham. Dengan cara ini yang telah dipersetujui SC, Avenue telah menjual saham mereka pada diskaun sebanyak 34%!
Mengikut penilaian PE ratio (Nisbah Harga Sesaham Kepada Perolehan) berdasarkan EPS (perolehan sesaham) ECM pada akaun 2005 menunjukkan nisbah yang rendah pada 11. Bila diambil kira perolehan dari keputusan kewangan suku tahun yang terbaru, PE rationya adalah 28. Ini maknanya Avenue hanya akan dapat balik modal dari pembelian anak syarikat ECM dalam masa 28 tahun!

Pada kebiasaannya nilai dalam pasaran lebih di beratkan kepada Keputusan Kewangan yang terdekat dan lazim juga jangkaan keputusan kewangan akan datang yang terdekat. Keputusan terdekat untuk Avenue adalah pada 31-1-2006 dan ECM pada 31-12-2006. Perbezaan sebulan tidak membawa perbezaan sangat.

Artikel lain dalam KMU dah menunjukkan kejatuhan perolehan ketara oleh ECM melebihi 40%. Keputusan Kewangan terdekat ini tidak di ambil kira langsung oleh semua konon2 pakar-pakar ini. Pengaudit Avenue (Deloitte Touche), Pengaudit Avenue (Ernst & Young), Penasihat Avenue (Avenue Securities), Penasihat ECM (Aseambanker, anak syarikat Maybank) dan Penasihat Bebas (K&N Kenanga) membiarkan perbezaan2 ini berlalu.

Sudah tentu bila semua ini diambilkira, perhitungan penggabungan ini jauh berbeza! Tidaklah perkara berikut berlaku:
1. Avenue yang lebih kukuh dan berprestasi diambilalih oleh ECM yang lebih lemah.
2. Avenue yang mempunyai kekuatan pemegang saham Institusi dikuasai oleh pemegang saham ECM yang lebih individu.
3. Avenue dan ECM (dulu Bumiputera Securities) yang dikuasai kerajaan akan terjatuh kepada individu-individu seperti Kalimullah, Khairy, dan bekas eksekutif2 Hong Leong (yang berakar umbi Singapura) seperti Lim Kian Onn, Roger Tan dan David Chua. Satu pengarah Tan Sri Dato Dr Sak Cheng Lum adalah bekas ADUN MCA di Penang dan juga Pengarah dalam The Star.
4. Avenue yang mempunyai prestasi yang lebih tulus dan meyakinkan akan diambil oleh pengurusan yang tidak mempunyai “track record” di ECM yang baik.
Saya sedar ada banyak lagi isu-siu lain termasuk isu politik tetapi saya hanya mahu menjurus kepada isu nilai. Tulisan akan menjadi terlalu panjang dan isu politik tidak ada kesudahan.

Pendek kata, pemegang saham termasuk Instutusi Kerajaan (bermakna pegang untuk rakyat) tidak mendapat nilai yang lebih saksama. Di mana Menteri Kewangan (Dato Seri Abdullah Anmad Badawi, Perdana Menteri Malaysia), Menteri Kewangan II (Tan Sri Nor Mohamad Yakcop), Director General EPU, Chairman Baru SC, Chairman Bursa Saham, Chairman Bank Simpanan Nasional, dan lain-lain yang berkuasa dalam hal ini?

Kita tidak kisah siapa-siapa ingin berniaga dan membuat pengswstaan syarikat kerajaan. Tidak kira lah Khairy ke, atau Kalimullah ke, atau yang lain-lain. Namun, tidak bolehlah hingga tidak mengikut peraturan. It doesn’t matter how you play the game, but you have to follow the rule of the game! Perkara sebegini tidak pernah berlaku di Malaysia.

Ini saja kebolehan dan ilham yang Allah telah lintaskan didalam sanubari saya. Yang baiknya dari ianya dan yang tidak dari saya sendiri, saya berserah kepada Allah dan takut kepada azabnya.

Samb Part 3

25/02 12:04:36

muftimurtad2007 wrote:

Part 3
Laporan Kunta Kinte Malaysia

Beberapa orang pengunjung KMU yang juga merupakan pemegang saham minoriti di dalam Avenue Capital Resources Berhad (Avenue) menghantar emel kepada laman ini mempersoalkan langkah Suruhanjaya Sekuriti masih mendiamkan diri biarpun menerima aduan daripada mereka mengenai urusniaga penggabungan Avenue dengan ECM Libra.

Mereka berpendapat SC tidak seharusnya mendiamkan diri kerana ini akan menjejaskan kredebiliti dan integeriti SC dan juga Bursa Saham Kuala Lumpur. Salah satu surat disiarkan dalam laporan ini. Selain itu, laporan juga dibuat oleh beberapa rakan laman ini kepada Badan Pengawas Bagi Pemegang Saham Minoriti.


[Nama & Alamat Pengadu Dirahsiakan]

Complaints Unit
Securities Commission
No 3 Persiaran Bukit Kiara
Bukit Kiara
50490 Kuala Lumpur

Re: Merger of Avenue Capital Resources Berhad (ACRB) and ECM Libra Berhad (ECM)

I refer to the abovementioned in which the ACRB EGM is due next Thursday May 18th, 2006 to seek shareholders’ approval for the said Merger. In this exercise, ECM would essentially be selling its subsidiaries to Avenue International Capital Berhad (AICB) in exchange for the issuance of shares to the shareholders of ECM. AICB is a newco created after the ongoing reorganisation exercise.
As a minority shareholder in ACRB, I am not quite happy with the exercise based on the issues stipulated below. I hope the Securities Commission (SC) that has approved the proposal, reconsider its decision and request a new proposal to protect the interest of shareholders of ACRB and particularly its minority shareholders.

1. The fixing of ECM’s share price is not approprite.Price is fixed as per last price prior to the suspension on 19th January 2006. This share price is not quite fair since the shares have not been performing at that level for quite sometime and there seemed to be “strange” run-up with heavy trading few days prior to the suspension. The chart shows such occurance: :
The rise in share price inflated the market valuation of ECM’s operating businesses. If such is allowed, the only beneficiaries of this action are the shareholders of ECM and at the detriment of the shareholders of ACRB.

2. The ECM business is overvalued.
The ECM business is value at RM210 million and ECM shareholders is expected to be compensated by the issuance of RM440 million AICB shares of RM1.00 par value at RM0.66 per share. These is a gross undervaluation because the shares have been adjusted in the Avenue restructuring exercise so that AICB shares are on a proforma basis worth RM1.00 per shares.
In fact, after the restructuring the value of cash and acash equivalents in AICB is worth RM0.91 shares. This makes the issuance of AICB shares based on RM0.66 an incredible discount to the cash in AICB!
Based on the PE ratio pre-restructuring, AICB shares without this so-caled merger would likely be trade around RM1.40. Thus, ECM could potentially enjoy a gain in excess of 100%. The likelihood is that the share price of the merged AICB would fall due to the an eroded earning per shares (EPS). This would cause losses to the existing shareholders of ACRB like me.
3. The strength and businesses of ECM does not justify the premium it command.
In comparison to ACRB, ECM has not been performing and showing growth as well as ACRB. A simplecomparison is made below:
(1-yr to 31-1-2006) (1-yr to 31-12-2005)
Shareholder Fund RM673 mil(2005) RM578.3 mil (2005)
Revenue RM78.1 mil RM44.8 mil
Profit Before Tax RM56.6 mil RM17.7 mil
EPS (Basic) 6.89 sen 3.74 sen
NTA RM 92.6 RM 1.34
PBT growth 78.8% (45.9%)
Without going through rigorous calculations, it can be concluded that ACRb is bigger in Shareholders Fund, and Asset, better performing and showing growth. Infact, ECM is showing a significant decline in profir Before tax.
Thus, how does it justify the huge PE ratio of more than 20 for ECM asset valuation for the exercise when the market’s trading at well below that? I wonder what is the average industry PER and what justify it to be fixed at such. How can it justify the huge premium over NTA ?
Samb Part 4

25/02 12:05:02

muftimurtad2007 wrote:

Part 4
4. This merger is actually a takeover by ECM
It should thus be recognised as such. So far, ACRB’s Chairman and Managing Direcor have resigned and no doubt more will follow. Considering that this board and management team have consistently yielded strong results for the shareholders, it is bewildering that this team is replaced by the “Acquirer” ’s team that cannot even give their investors consistently good returns and a profitable operations.
If it is a takeover, then we are witnessing an acquisition of a Government-linked company by a privately controlled company. Doesn’t this constitute a privatization and therefore subject to the process that includes obtaining an approval from the Malaysian Cabinet through the Economic Planning Units’s Privatisation Secretariat?
After the merger, the existign sharehodlers of ECM Libra would have a control and more than 33% equity of AICB. Isn’t that constitute a takeover. Why is it that the Secorities Commission gave waiver from a Mandatory General Offer (MGO)?
7. Independent Adviser to The Minority Shareholder
As at today May 9th, 2006, the Independent Adviser (IA) to the Shareholders has not circulated its advise and there is none available on Bursa Malaysia’s website.
I have been informed by the Company’s officer that the K&N Kenanga Berhad and they have not got clearance to circulate it yet. I believe this document should be provided together with the Call for EGM some 14 days before the EGM itself.
I hope the SC would seriously look at the issues raised as it could constitute somewhat an “oppression” on the Minority Shareholders if it is let to pass.
I believe we share are common aspiration that the rules and regulations of the Capital Market be adhered to by all parties for the integrity and development of the nation’s Capital Market.
Thank you.

Yours truly

[Tidak Disiarkan Bagi Tujuan Siaran]

Samb Part 5

25/02 12:05:54

muftimurtad2007 wrote:

Part 5
Oleh Ayubi
Mari kita bandingkan kedua-dua syarikat Avenue Capital Resources Berhad dan ECM Libra Berhad

Avenue (untuk setahun hingga 31-1-2006)
Shareholders’ Fund (Jumlah Capital): RM673 juta (pada 31/1/2005)
Revenue: RM78.1 juta
Profit Before Tax (PBT): RM56.6 juta
Earning per Share (Basic EPS): 6.89 sen sesaham
Net Tangible Asset Per Share: 92.6 sen sesaham
1-year Profit Growth (PBT): +78.8%

ECM Libra (setahun hingga 31-12-2005)

Shareholders’ Fund (Jumlah Capital): RM578.3 juta (pada 30-3-2005)
Revenue: RM44.8 juta
Profit Before Tax (PBT): RM17.7 juta
Earning per Share (Basic EPS): 3.74 sen saham
Net Tangible Asset Per Share: 1.34 sen
1-year Profit Growth (PBT): -45.9%

Cuba bandingkan dari segi keuntungan, keuntungan sesaham, pertumbuhan keuntungan, saiz capital dan aset backing setiap saham antara kedua2 syarikat ini.

Jelas Avenue lebih dari semua segi. Tetapi bukan pengurusan Avenue yang akan mengetuai syarikat avenue baru. Pengerusinya bekas polis Tan Sri Shamsuri dan CEO mereka Tengku Zafrul pun telah resign.
Selepas ini Kalimullah, Lim Kian Onn dan David Chua akan menguasai 22.74% syarikat avenue yang tergabung. Manakala kerajaan (MOF) yang menguasai 29.5% dalam Avenue Capital akan turun kepada 15.4%.
Paid-up capital syarikat avenue (baru) naik dari RM388 juta ke RM955 juta.
Bersama dengan ECM Libra (1%) dan Pantai (7.4%), kumpulan penyamun ini akan kuasai lebih 31% saham avenue baru. Ini tidak termasuk saham 3% dalam ECM yang akan di tukar ke avenue kepunyaan commission agent terkenal Malaysia bernama Khairy Jamaluddin, menantu PM (position official dalam kerajaan).
Dengan penguasaan syarikat avenue baru, penyamun2 ini, yang jelas tidak pandai berniaga (kalau di lihat performance ECM Libra), akan memulakan rompakan dan perogolan syarikat GLC ini beramai2.
Ada banyak isu-isu lain yang ada yang lebih pakar boleh terangkan. Yang hairannya:

1. Kenapa Securities Commission biarkan penilaian yang salah di luluskan?!

2. Kenapa Bursa Malaysia biar saja insider trading berleluasa pada saham ECM?!

3. Kenapa Kementerian Kewangan dan EPU membenarkan penggabungan ini?!

4. Kenapa tidak ada Mandatory General Offer?

5. Kenapa tidak ada proses kelulusan privatisation syarikat GLC oleh EPU?!

25/02 12:06:58

Chinese voters were “kingmakers” by default

February 24, 2007
 “Ripening durian” by Sim Kwang Yang  is about the coming general election in general.

Sim has brought up an interesting point on the role of Chinese voters in the elections after years of gerrymandering of seats by the BN coalition with the help of SPR. While such strategy has weaken the chances of DAP very significantly, it has now become an “unstable” factor in the whole power equation. The kris-wielding Hishamuddin Hussein may not win in the next elections if all the Chinese voters some 30%)in his constituency decided to teach him a lesson.

Yes, there are certainly much fewer seats that were considered “Chinese seats” (no more than 40 in total ) and therefore blowing away the winnning  chances of DAP.But the spreading out  of Chinese voters to so many seats now potentially could cause trouble to BN parties when these seats were contested “neck-to-neck’ by two equaly powerful candidates. In a way, the Chinese voters,by default, play the role of “kingmakers”. To certain extent, the Indian voters also paly the role of “kingmakers” in keenly contested seats.

Such situation created another political reality the opposition parties must strike out some form of cooperation if they were serious about challenging the Umno-led BN coalition. One could only win with the support from voters of all races. As it is, DAP counts on the Chinese votes and some Malay and Indian votes, and Pas could only garner Malay votes. Keadilan? Mostly Malay votes plus some Chinese and Indian votes. Individually, these parties cannot go very far.

If the opposition parties cannot form a coalition similar to the BN, they must at least stop fighting among themselves and try their best to reach some form of understanding. An electoral pact? Fighting together on some common issues? Sharing of man power?

On the other hand, the Malaysain voters must also learn to be smarter. They cannot wait until the opposition parties become as strong as those in the West before they could throw their support. They also cannot withhold their support just because the opposition parties were perceived to be disunited. You will be terrribly wrong if you think that the ruling BN parties were united. They were stucked with each other because of the “sharing of spoils” derived from the so-called sharing of powers.

Malaysian voters must realise that the opposition parties in this country were fighting an uphill battle. There is no level playing field here. ..

1.No freedom of press and therefore no equal and fair chances of dissemination of information to the voters.

2.The police is not being neutral , they were used as tools to break up the support base of the opposition parties. 

3.The businessmen were threatened not to fund the opposition parties. Some were too scared to be even associated with the opposition leaders.

4.The Election Commission (SPR) functions and behaves more like an component party of the ruling BN coalition. There is no fair and clean elections in our land.

So how could any opposition party possibly grow into a strong entity under such undemocratic circumstances?

No opposition parties ( or rather, no political parties) were without weaknesses and shortcomings. They need your support to become stronger or strong enough to challenge the sick and arrogant BN coalition parties. 

Vote any opposition party in your area. Just anyone. Anyone would be better than those led by the evil Umno. 

Make no mistakes. Umno is the common enemy of all Malaysians. Not Pas. Not Keadilan. Not DAP.

Ripening durian

Sim Kwang Yang
Feb 24, 07 1:02pm-

SIM KWANG YANG was DAP MP for Bandar Kuching in Sarawak 1982-1995. Since retiring in 1995, he has become a freelance writer in the Chinese-language press, and taught philosophy in a local college for three years.He is now working with an NGO in Kuala Lumpur, the Omnicron Learning Circle, which is aimed at continuing learning for working adults and college students. Suggestions and feedback can reach him at:

‘An Examined Life’ appears in Malaysiakini every Saturday.

DESPITE the PM’s often repeated statement that the next general election is not likely to be held soon, the vote is obviously very much on the mind of politicians, journalists, and political pundits throughout our land.

Obviously, the PM must have received worrisome reports from intelligence agencies about how people feel generally on the ground. In the last twelve months at least, the natives have been restive, and the Chinese and Indians have been seething with discontent.

You can analyse until the cow come home why suddenly Malaysians of all races begin to harbour doubts about the credibility of the ruling parties in delivering the good life, but surely, like most modern democracy, the economy must sit very much at the centre of this tornado of resentment.

In the last month or so, there has been an apparent attempt to change this public perception that we are now better off than before. The shares market is finally climbing towards the level similar to that before the 1997 disaster. All sorts of statistics about our booming economy dominate the front pages of our newspapers. Ambitious projects to revive the economy and huge government expenditure under the 9th Malaysian Plan are touted weekly.

Apparently, our trade figure has surpassed the one trillion mark for the first time. Our unemployment rate is low, and so is our consumer price index. Our GDP growth rate continues to hold at between 5 to 6 %. All these numbers indicate a prosperous booming economy. The people should be enjoying a high standard of living, and happily support the government during the pending general election.

Unfortunately, in this country, we do not have credible professional public opinion poll, like the Gallup Poll in the US. Most first world nations have regular opinion polls to gauge the mood of the people on any subject at any one time. That we have yet to see such professional poling is an indication that we are very far from being a first-world nation.

Grey area

We can only speculate as to the reason why we do not have such polls in Malaysia.

We do know that both the ruling parties and the opposition have their own solid support base, consisting of die-hard supporters who will vote for the object of their loyalty, no matter what. Generally speaking, the support base for the ruling parties will be far larger and more solid than that for the opposition. The ruling parties do have the advantage of incumbency, and possess such resources and political largess as to consolidate their power base with ease.

Between the die-hard support bases for the BN and the opposition, there exists a grey area of undecided voters, ranging from very intelligent voters who will weigh and compare the two contending sides, to voters who simply do not have a clue about politics. Their size in any constituency varies, but small they may be in numbers, their polling trend may and often does change the outcome of any keenly contested election. One could say that these “fence-sitters” are actually the king-makers in any general election.

Seasoned campaigners know well that no effort and expense should be spared in wooing these “fence-sitters”. Loyalty to their race and religion often works, and so does intimidation and fear. In Sarawak and Sabah, cash usually speaks louder than words.

Everybody loves a winner. Strange as it may sound, there are actually many fence-sitting voters who will vote where the wind blows. Somehow, if they get an inkling that in any one constituency, the opposition is enjoying strong support, they will be better fortified against bribe and intimation to vote for the opposition as well. There is always this group psychology of strength in number at work. This trend seems to apply to both informed and uninformed voters.

Therefore, it is not to the interest of the ruling parties to allow professional credible public opinion polls. For one thing, if the government is getting unpopular, a transparent poll showing it to be so may trigger off and create a chain-reaction of discontent, encouraging more support for the opposition. For another, without independent objective polls, it is far easier for the BN controlled media to manufacture the public perception that all things are rosy and well.

Public perception may not be the end all and be all in a democracy, but it is nearly that. Take the American Presidential election for instance. There, the presidential election is now shut off to all except those who are very wealthy themselves, or who can raise billions of campaign funds, much of which will go to TV advertising. In this age of media illusion being mistaken for reality, Abraham Lincoln would never be elected because of his less-than-handsome feature.

Trickle down effect

The latest round of spin about how well our economy is doing is an indication that the next general election is near at hand. At the same time, the PM may also wish for the massive injection of public investment into the national economy to bear fruit. That means allowing the 9th Malaysian Plan to gestate. The trickle down effect will have to take some time.

The critical date to watch would be our nation’s 50th Independence Day this year. With the usual outbursts of euphoria and hysterical patriotism usually associated with such an event, the national mood would be favourable to the ruling partiers. Then again, somewhere down the line in October perhaps, the Budget Session of Parliament is another occasion for the government to shower the nations with a whole host of goodies.

Without access to privileged information, and wild-guessing entirely from my comfortable armchair, I would predict that the next general election could possibly fall sometime after October this year, and more likely to happen at the beginning of next year.

The next 12 moths are crucial for all parties eyeing the next general election with great interest.

It will be even more crucial for the PM. Obviously, his honeymoon with the Malaysian electorate is over. There were great expectations of what he could deliver when he led the BN to a landslide victory in 2004. That kind of expectations will now return to haunt him.

His baggage will now wear on him like the Himalaya mountains. His own party and the parties within the ruling coalition are cracking at the seams. Having been liberated from the iron claws of the previous PM, the media have uncovered many huge hornet’s nests and giant skeletons in the BN closet. The nation is awash with a plethora of highly inflammable issues.

Above all, the people are hard up, no matter what the official statistics say about our booming economy.

A recent poll conducted by an independent body has shown that as of now, if an election were held today, two-third of the Chinese would vote for the opposition, while one-third of the Indians and the Malays would do likewise.

The PM may not be all that worried about a swing of Chinese votes to the opposition, as long as he holds on to the Malay base in rural and semi-rural constituencies, especially those in Sarawak and Sabah. Given the decades of electoral gerrymandering, the proportion of Chinese majority seats in the country has declined with each delineation. Even if no Chinese votes for the BN, the ruling parties may still be in power.

Anwar’s biggest challenge

This time around, however, there is a difference. There are many seats where no single ethnic community enjoys a simple majority. There are many seats where the Chinese votes count from between 5 to 15% of the total votes within the constituency. If there is a keen contest between two equally powerful candidates, the Chinese voters may find themselves playing role of king-makers. Extrapolate this situation to the whole country, and the Chinese votes would suddenly become crucial in deciding the national balance of power – if only they know it, and know how to make use of this fact to their advantage.

The racially mixed seats ought to be fertile hunting ground for Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). This young party has been in a political doldrums, even after the release of Anwar Ibrahim. The next election is certainly the do-or-die battle for them. It may also be Anwar Ibrahim’s severest test in his entire political career.

No single opposition party can ever dream of threatening the BN grip on power naturally. Our nation’s politics is condemned to be one of alliance. So far, no meaningful alliance of opposition parties has ever appeared on our nation’s political stage.

Whatever his political baggage may be, Anwar Ibrahim is the X factor in opposition politics. He is still the only one who can work as both a pivot and a catalyst in forging a rainbow coalition of opposition forces and making a significant dent in fortress BN. That makes the next general election more interesting to watch.

During fruiting season, the durians that are almost ripe will fall of their own accord. The same phenomenon applies to politics as well. What kind of durian will we get after the next election is anybody’s guess.