Potpouri at Causeway

Welcome to reading my blog on any issues under the Sun.

Search This Blog

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Umno-linked men in control of GLCs losing money

My Malay friend was equally excited. We immediately went together to a local bank to sign up for loans to purchase the Dana Johor share units. I was curious when the bank officer told us there were two categories of interest rates for the same amount borrowed – the lower rate for ‘members’, the higher rate for ‘non-members’.
I asked her if I could become a ‘member’. She practically flushed and apologised, replying that membership was only for Bumiputera. What? Even though both my friend and drew the same salary as government doctors, I would have to a pay higher interest because I am ‘non-Bumiputera’!
This is outright racial discrimination, not affirmative action.
I felt extremely humiliated but I had to thank the Malay officer for her humility in apologising for a racist policy that she had no power over.
Who in the world would want to pay higher interests in return for racial degradation? I decided not to take up the loan that was being managed along racial lines as I always understood that any economy would never thrive if managed in such a racist way. It would surely crumble by itself.
But my doubt has always been how blanket lower interest rates offered to Bumiputera vis-a-vis non-Bumiputera would help poor Malays move up the socio-economic ladder.
Ultimately it turned out that my instinct was correct – immoral economic practices would boomerang on themselves sooner rather than later.
Ironically, some years later as a wakil rakyat, I had to raise the issue in the state assembly when the Dana Johor share value dropped from RM1 per unit to 18 sen. And to the displeasure of many buyers, Johor Corp is offering only 50 sen to buy back each share in order to wind up the fund.
Before this Johor Corp had wound up Amanah Saham Johor, which was for Bumiputera only, at a one ringgit per unit scheme.
Racism dampened our economic growth
Please allow me to delve into further details about what is happening in Johor.
I know that one Umno state assemblyman openly asked for a directorship – in any government-linked company – upon his retirement from politics.
GLCs have become collection of BN, especially Umno-linked, well-paid but non-performing politicians. It is hardly surprising to find out that Johor Corp has a whooping debt of RM6 billion, with RM 3.6 billion in the form of bonds that will be due next year.
Yayasan Pelajaran Johor and Kumpulan YPJ
According to Auditor-General’s report, the Yayasan Pelajaran Johor financial statement which ended 21 Dec 2008 indicated that more than a quarter (26.9% or RM73.2 million) of YPJ’s RM271.9 million investment could not verified due to its lack of proper documentation for auditing. Furthermore, it has a debt  of RM14.8 million to its subsidiaries.
Johor scholars owed as much as RM16.3 million to YPJ, and 95 percent or RM15.5 million in debts could not be verified due to a lack of any documentation. Already, YPJ ran at a loss of RM 2.7 million in 2008 while Kumpulan Pendidikan YPJ Sdn Bhd registered a loss of RM1.5 million in the same year.
Due to wastage and mismanagement, it is inevitable that YPJ will go bust eventually – it is only a matter of when.
Perbadanan Bioteknologi dan Biodiversiti Negeri Johor (J-Bioetch)
J-Biotech has nine subsidiaries with total assets of RM3.5 million and total current liabilities of RM18 million. Five out of these subsidiaries have current liabilities more than their current assets, which in other words mean they are technically bankrupt. Seven out of the nine subsidiaries ran at loss in 2008.
Government bailouts are expected until the company goes under one day soon.
*Financial year end 31-12-2008. Source: Registrar of Companies
Nama SyarikatTypes of businessCurrent Assets
Current Liabilities
Before Tax Profits or losses (RM)-2008
Yayasan Pelajaran Johor (YPJ)32,410,00023,482,000-(2,762,000)
Kumpulan YPJ179,479,000.0091,214,00021,319,000
YPJ Holdings Sdn. Bhd. (Anak Syarikat YPJ)Oil Palm Plantations, Oil Palm Kernels Processing, Plantation Management 115,038.0066,564.0041,858.00
Kumpulan Pendidikan YPJ Sdn. Bhd.Education29,457,732.00*77,050,421.00-(1,566,625.00)
J-Biotech Sdn. Bhd.Management 1,306,940.00*7,346,013.00-(770,655.00)
J-Biotech Holdings Sdn. Bhd.Biotechnology dan Biodiversity Development608,732.00*8,213,344.00-(2,051,241.00)
Johor Plant Tech. Sdn. Bhd.Agriculture147,875.00*347,361.00-(1,172,219.00)
Permodalan Darul Ta’zim Sdn. Bhd.Oil Palm  planting business697,588.00153,807.00-(818,209.00)
Insist Amilat Sdn. Bhd.Consultancy firm for Government2,894,313.002,624,462.00143,805.00
PIJ Holdings Sdn. Bhd. (previously known as Perinsid Holdings Sdn. Bhd.)Property development, agriculture, manufacturing, commercial etc.41,387,481.009,037,525.0030,365,928.00
J-Bioconsult Sdn. Bhd.Consultancy and Management706,911.00425,528.00238,350.00
J-Biotech Environment Sdn. Bhd.Products based on Microbes 355,520.00*497,363.00-(186,138.00)
J-Biotech Nandan Herbal Sdn. Bhd.Herbal Business10,384.00242,007.00-(40,025.00)
Phytoshoppe Sdn. Bhd. ( anak Syarikat J-Biotech Sdn. Bhd)Spa, health and make up businesses 121,212.00*616,150.0074,299.00
J-Bio Construction Sdn. Bhd. 227,101.00128,826.00-(702.00)
Bio Desaru Sdn. Bhd. Organic Food Valley Developer2.00546,933.00-(513,179.00)

Source: http://drboochenghau.blogspot.com/2010/05/johor-glcs-are-in-bad-shape.html
Most GLCs are not only economically unproductive but also acutely race based. And the GLCs boards are Umno’s piece of the pie. MIC and MCA politicians are more often than not excluded.
The large number of Umno government-linked politicians sitting on GLCs boards are said to safeguard Malay equities ownership. This arrangement hardly reflects the economic progress of Malay society at large. What it has done is make the corporate world more racially divided than integrated.
This may explain why the average Malay household and Chinese income ratio have remained unchanged since the implementation of NEP when compared to Singapore Malays who have achieved better economic progress through the non-racial process of urbanisation, free education and industrialisation.
Heavy govt interference in corporate world
The NEP’s focus has been mainly to enlarge Malay equity ownership.
The government invested in various economic activities in the name of Malay interest. That activity brought very little benefit but incurred large fiscal losses of public funds and state resources that rightly belong to all Malaysians.
Between 1960 and 1992, the number of public enterprises increased from a mere 22 to a whopping 1,149 – spreading across all economic activities, including agriculture, building and construction, finance, services, extractive industries and others.
The government also ventured into heavy and capital-intensive industries in the 1980s. By 1986, public enterprises dominated many industries, including palm kernel oil, palm oil, vegetable and animal oils, food products, hydraulic cement, tires and tubes, sugar, manufacture of industrial gases and manufacturing sub-sectors of petroleum. Their share of the industries ranged from 31 percent to 85 percent, according to economist K.S. Jomo.
Public monopolies failed to bring about impressive economic growth in Malaysia compared with what happened at the same time in Taiwan and South Korea. Even though Malaysia had an average GDP growth rate of about four percent per annum in the 1970s and 1980s, Taiwan and South Korea have surpassed Malaysia with their greater growth rates despite both countries having more impoverished economies in the 1960s.
Misinterpretation of economic problems and misuse of public resources to build up individual Malay capitalist equity ownership has greatly suppressed Malaysia’s economic performance.
The misconception about public enterprises as being representative of Malay interests is detrimental to better economic growth as well as to the interests of individual Malays and the Malay masses. It is only a few Malay tycoons who have benefitted. The gap between the mean income of the Malay and the Chinese has remained largely unchanged.
Financing of public enterprises was largely from the federal treasury and public agencies such as Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara), the Urban Development Authority (UDA) and various state economic development corporations (SEDCs).
Another major source of funding was from Malaysian public institutions such as the Muslim Pilgrim Fund and Management Board (LUTH), the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), and the Bumiputera Investment Foundation.
Feathering whose nest?
The involvement of public enterprises in businesses in the name of a single race is not only short-sighted but unproductive.
It has mainly alienated one segment of the population whilst not helping another segment to make real gains. Nonetheless, the propaganda that the Umno government has safeguarded Malay rights did provide an illusionary sense of well-being for the Malays, many of whom believe that their interests are enhanced by these public ventures in business.
Even if we do not institute physical segregation laws such as in apartheid, we have certainly a de facto system of segregation established at a colossal cost amounting to billions of ringgits.
Sometimes I have discussions about economics with Umno politicians but I can never agree with their superficial interpretation of wealth distribution. Often they give me a boggling example like “most golfers are Chinese businessmen”.
A non-racial approach towards corporate equities ownership should be in place if we are determined to get out of this economic dilemma. Non-racial policies such as minimum wage, on-the-job training, and free competition will keep the free market working.
One solution is to open the failing GLCs not only to local businesses for bidding takeovers but also to international companies. This approach may help attract foreign direct investment and add competitiveness to our corporate world. It has become clear that GLCs can no longer survive on Malay nationalist prejudice and pride alone.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Hannah’s baby vs. an ‘East Indies’ Chinese


raceMy widowed mother was a rubber tapper who took care of me when I was growing up. My younger sister and I used to sleep on the grounds of the rubber plantation in the dark because we helped our mother to tap rubber at dawn. After finishing the work, we headed to school. Neither we nor my mom ever groaned about our poverty. All by herself, she managed to put me through medical school.
I did medicine in Jamaica where the University of the West Indies (UWI) charged an annual tuition fee about RM3,000 (the amount at that time) – which was more of a token sum really. I obtained a seat under the two places reserved in the medical faculty for non-West Indian students.
In 1986, I arrived in the West Indian isle of Jamaica, completely unknown to me and I daresay to most Malaysians. Being the first ever Malaysian to study at the UWI, my classmates held me as a ‘novelty’. Among them were Indian and Chinese Trinidadians and Jamaicans who sometimes saw me as a long lost relative from their ancestral lands – they termed me as ‘the East Indian’. It was a new and rewarding cultural adventure.
When at first I had hard time in communicating with the locals, my accent was unfamiliar to them. Some were puzzled and asked: “Man, what island (of the English-speaking West Indies) are you from?” They somehow still thought that I was from their neck of the woods as the region has hosted immigrants of Chinese descent.
“The East Indies,” I took to replying creatively.
A few ordinary Jamaicans in the Kingston streets had initially annoyed by calling me ‘Chinaman’.  My standard answer then was, “Hey Man, mi ‘ave a name”. Easing myself into my adopted Jamaican environment, I gradually learned to adapt to the West Indian way of looking at interracial relations.
Race in a black country
Jamaicans might be class conscious but they are much less racial in that there was no official distinction of Negro or half Negro in a population that was over 95 percent black when I was there.
Nowhere else but in Jamaica would you find people with Afro hair but Mongolian eyes. Mixed Afro-Chinese children tend to have dominant genes from each of their parents.
It was in Jamaica that I learned to live as a ‘man’ – a world citizen rather than a Chinese or a Malaysian.
There is no race bar or systemic racism that confers native status. Bumiputera-ism is not a rationale the Jamaicans would have understood, and admittance into their sole university was based on academic merit. I got into UWI to do medicine when the racism perpetrated by Umno & Co. would have denied me upward mobility for lack of education.
How could I then not be grateful to these new people that surrounded me? Thus, it was natural that their way of doing things have had a great impact on me. I enjoy reggae music to this day as well as miss their national dishes such as curried goat and ackee-n-salt fish.
Being in Jamaica for five years of my formative youth, I pondered on my identity against the backdrop of racism that was a de factoif subtle national policy under the Umno-dictated government.
Evolving to multicultural
In Jamaica, I asked myself: Am I Chinese? Malaysian? Chinese Malaysian? Malaysian Chinese? More profoundly, my ‘East Indian’ joke was perhaps (when you think about it) more reasonable than race and religion – a term that referred to geographical location vis-à-vis Jamaica as the locus.
In Jamaican patois, we simply referred to each other as ‘mans’ which means men. In Jamaica, Hannah Yeoh’s predicament would not have arisen. All are Jamaicans or West Indians regardless of one’s parentage, ancestry, skin colour or religion. In Malaysia, all are Malaysians as long as we are citizens.
The case of Hannah concerns stating a race in her newborn’s birth certificate. Her determination in choosing for her child to be Anak Malaysia (son of daughter of Malaysia) carried a significant anti-racial connotation.
Why should Malaysians be still forcibly classified according to race? Is it merely part of a statistical exercise or is it to later be a criterion enabling official discrimination?
Hannah – whose baby is registered Chinese when the father is Ramachandran Muniandy – would be well respected in Jamaica, a predominantly matriarchal society. In the olden days of slavery, it was the women who ran the households because the men were traded between slave masters.
In a case of mixed parentage, why should the ethnicity of the child automatically be that of the father’s? Is Shay Adora Ram a Chinese, Indian or Chindian? Will race be used discriminatively against the Malaysian child later in life for jobs and university entrance?
Can’t we visualize an alternative scenario where the race box is discarded?
Evaluating apartheid
It was in Jamaica that I began to ponder at length on what apartheid meant. My intellectual curiosity stemmed from the unusual circumstance of my being in Jamaica due to the denial of education opportunities by my own country.
On Feb 11, 1990, I was in the Jamaican capital Kingston when Nelson Mandela was released from prison. Jamaicans were overjoyed by the news. Cars on the streets switched on their headlights and drivers honked in celebration as if Mandela was their own national hero of liberation.
That event was a catalyst for my reading up on the nuances of apartheid. Before that, I used to perceive apartheid only in its physical manifestation of segregated public facilities like buses and public toilets, the argument used by Umno politicians in attacking me when the two regimes are equated.
After going through a lot of literature on the topic, I was stunned by the similarities between what was called apartheid in South Africa and what is disingenuously packaged as Bumiputera-ism.
Does nationalism today encompass Malays fighting against their own countrymen?
In the American South half a century ago, seven-year-old Linda Brown could not enrol in a school seven blocks from her Kansas home but had to walk a mile to a bus-stop to take a bus to a black school. There were only four schools in the city of Topeka for African-American children in a state where $150 was spent on white children for every $50 spent on black children in overcrowded classrooms.
How different was Topeka, Kansas in 1950 to Malaysia in the 21st century where Malays demonstrated to bar ‘non-Bumiputeras’ from entering public institutions of higher learning like Mara which are well endowed with funding and state-of-the-art facilities?
Race decides how the Umno-led government will treat your child. It detects how you state your child’s race in our system of official documentation where the aborigines are not recognized as Orang Asli, a formal ethnic group. Or we are labelled Chinese in courtesy but ‘non-Bumiputera’ in humiliation. Bumiputera is a term that never appears in the federal constitution. Therefore diminishing us as the ‘non’ flip side to the NEP-coined term shows just upside down this country is.
We are all ‘mans’
This country is so upside down that Malay ultras can see the speck across the ocean in South Africa and loudly condemn apartheid but fail to see the beam in their own eye. It was not be off-the-mark when the Afro-Jamaican lady I know married to a Malaysian described Malaysia as “a land of racism” even though we refuse to admit this ourselves.
Yet there is hope in the new generation that have been educated to see man as Man, transcending old race prejudices. You can understand how proud I was when my ten-year-old son asked for direction (to the toilet) from a brown-skinned worker at the Kota Kinabalu airport with “Abang, tolong tanya mana tandas?”
Abang? I was surprised my son used the term so naturally and appropriately at that moment. It would have been extremely embarrassing if my son greeted him something like “Hey Melayu” or “Si Hitam Manis”, wouldn’t it? The man could have been a Malay, Melanau, Sino-Kadazan, Kadazan, Bajau, Chindian, Eurasian or someone from the Philippines.
And I could see the man’s eyes sparkle maybe because he was thrilled that a little Chinese boy knew to greet him ‘Abang’. As a father, I too beamed with delight to see that my son appeared at ease with people of different skin colours.
So let me recall my command of Jamaican patois: ‘Hey man, mi ’ave a name. If ya dunno mi name, call mi bruder”.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Isn’t a one-race civil service a form of apartheid?


I remember once as a young medical officer, I was boycotted by operating theatre staff when I wanted stern action taken against a staff nurse who went for a kenduri when she was supposed to scrub for a surgery.
An assistant nurse had to cover up for her delinquent senior. Both the nurses – the one who had absented herself and the one suddenly forced to relieve her duty – were Malay. The young patient lying on my operating table waiting to deliver her baby was Malay too. And also Malay, the anaesthesist and other operating theatre staff who gave me the cold shoulder after I remonstrated with the matron. 
I had informed Matron right away after I found the young nurse shivering in fear because she was thrown into the deep end and unprepared to assist in a surgery. If I had expected disciplinary action to be taken, I was disappointed. My colleagues who rallied around the race banner sadly failed to see that the patient (someone belonging to their own ethnic community) about to give birth deserved the best medical care.
What if it had been an emergency case where a life was at stake? Malays have to be made aware that an incompetent and one-race dominated civil service may not be beneficial to them and as the majority, they would be the ones ultimately most affected. With such experiences, you can understand why I resigned from the public health sector.
One of my Malay superiors urged me to “think about the service” but then again, if only the Malays themselves could think about how racism among civil servants has hindered their own progress.
1Malay first and foremost
Malaysia has a “huge and largely ethnic Malay civil service, completely loyal to Umno, but increasingly incompetent” that is the biggest obstacle to Prime Minister Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia. This was the view of former Economic Planning Unit deputy director-general K. Govindan, according to a leaked United States diplomatic cable.
The WikiLeaks that appeared in Malaysia Today on June 6 had the cable further quoting Govindan’s opinion that our civil service adopts “a very narrow worldview and will oppose, even refuse to implement, reforms perceived as damaging ethnic Malay interests, even if convinced of the long-run gains for Malaysia”. 
Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has referred to the service as a “Malay administration”. He did not even bother to pass it off as a “bumiputera administration” in which case it can be claimed by the non-Muslim natives of East Malaysia. Alas, the Orang Asli indigenous to the peninsula do not even figure in the equation.
Non Malays have been gradually cleansed from the public sector with only a few remaining now in crucial and inevitable sectors such as teaching in vernacular schools. The Orang Asli have been totally excluded.
Umno ultra nationalists defend majority-race dominance as justifiable opposed to the minority-race dominance previously in South Africa under apartheid. They’re pretending their systemic racism is not discernible to the rest of the world even if the minorities in Malaysia are resigned to this supremacist order of public affairs.
The public sector should reflect the country’s plural society or in other words, set the example and no longer display the same ‘ethnic imbalances’ blamed on the divide-and-rule policy under British colonial rule.
Not a ‘reasonable’ apportioning
Mahathir and his ultras claim their affirmative action differs from apartheid. Yet the end result of the affirmative or rather discriminative action is the monopoly of all aspects of socio-economic life by a single politically dominant ethnic majority. One example of the 1Malay administration at work is the annual Public Service Department (JPA) scholarship disbursement where top non-Malay students appear to have been systematically sidelined.
Even though Article 8 (2) of the Federal Constitution states that all citizens are eligible if suitably qualified by educational standards to enter any branch of the public service, and there can be no discrimination on grounds of race, religion and the like, in reality, the Malay ultras have ignored this constitutional provision.
The public sector can declare that it is devoid of racial discrimination only if its staff composition reasonably reflects the ethnic composition of the country and its intake based primarily on merit. The competence, integrity and efficiency of personnel must take precedence over one’s skin colour and ancestral status.
In 1967, the Malays accounted for 68 percent of all civil servants (Supian Ali and Mohd Zainuddin: p.162). Chinese accounted for 16 percent and Indians 15 percent. In 1968, Malays outnumbered non-Malays only in two (administrative services and legal services) out of nine public service areas, and accounted about half of the uniformed services manpower (Mohamed Suffian: p.297). Nonetheless, many top administrative jobs, legal officer and technical posts were held by the Chinese and Indians.
Under clause (2) of article 153 in the constitution, it is the responsibility of the Yang Dipertuan Agong acting on Cabinet advice to ensure the reservation for Malays and natives of Borneo a “reasonable proportion” of positions in the federal public service. The constitution also prohibits any deprivation of a person of any public office held by him; and public servants all races of all levels must be treated impartially (Mohamed Suffian: p.294).
The constitution compels that any preferential treatment must still be reasonable to all ethnic groups and merit take precedence. The implementation of preferential policies has to be transparent.  
In 1978, the American court ruled in Regents of University of California v. Bakke that merit must take precedence over ethnicity in the implementation of affirmative action, and reverse racism as well as racial quotas are strictly forbidden. 
Strictly speaking, racial quotas have been found by the courts to be unconstitutional and not regarded as affirmative action in the United States. Instead racial quotas were the main feature of apartheid in South Africa
Consequences of racial quotas
The New Economic Policy imposed a quota in respect of Division I officers in the following services. The figures are shown in ratio:
Areas of Public Service
Non Malays
Home & Foreign services
Judicial and legal service
Customs service
Police force
Source: Mohamed Suffian, 1976, p.29
As of Dec 31, 2009, the Malaysian civil service comprised 1,247,894 employees. Their racial breakdown can be seen below as well as in comparison with past years.

Before NEP 1971
June 2005
December 2009
Source: http://blog.limkitsiang.com, April 7, 2010
Shortly after Independence, there were about 40 percent Indians in the Johor civil service. Today the 8,372-strong Johor civil service has witnessed the dwindling of Indians to a mere 1.39 percent and Chinese to an even more miniscule 0.12 percent (The Star, April 8, 2010).
All of the Johor leading administrative officers, including state secretaries, secretaries, directors of various state agencies, district officers and land officers and special administrators are Malays in a state where non-Malays account for almost half of the population. 1Malay domination of the public service is prominent not only at the top administrative levels but also down to the general workers.
Is the absolute domination of the public service by the Malays to be deemed ‘reasonable’ and constitutional?
XXL size govt and payroll
As we all know, the Malaysian public sector is bloated and we have the highest proportion of civil servants to population compared with our neighbours. In fact, we’re likely the world record holder!
Yet the civil service still keeps expanding. It keeps absorbing Malay graduates who would otherwise be. This will cause the Malay young generation to cling to the theory of Malay supremacy until the bubble bursts.
The public sector comprised 11.9 percent of our total workforce in 1970, peaking at 15 percent in 1981 but dropping to 12 percent in 1991 after an aggressive privatization programme launched in the mid-1980s (K.S. Jomo et al: p.65).
Civil Servants
% of total pop.
The Philippines
* Population as at 2003, UN estimates

Source:  UN online Network in Public Administration and Finance, 2004

Like other totalitarian states in history such as the Third Reich of Nazi Germany, Umno needs a large number of Malay civil servants to control the populace through racism. Its state-sponsored Biro Tata Negara propagates Malay supremacy from top civil servants down to the grassroots.
BTN has successfully infused not only Malay supremacy but also Sinophobia and xenophobia among Malay civil servants. The British were perceived as the colonizers and Chinese subsequently became the new bogeymen after Independence as the counterfoil for instilling Malay ‘unity’.
Nonetheless, there are unintended consequences from the bloated number of Malay civil servants. Some of them living in urban areas take on second jobs – teachers give private tuition and sell insurance; nurses engage in direct sales; government office general workers work at petrol kiosks at night. But at least they are trying to augment their income through honest means.
Corruption among civil servants has even been justified as an acceptable way to “balance the income disparity” between the Chinese-dominated private sector and Malay-dominated public sector. The tragic thing about the whole issue is that corruption has not only victimized the non-Malay poor but has also denied the underprivileged Malays access to state resources.
The lack of promotion prospects has contributed to the phenomenon of many non Malays resigning from the public service besides deterring new prospective entrants from applying. The ‘kulitfication’ (skin colour) ceiling and other preferences along racial lines comes at the expense of public administration efficiency. Inefficiency in the public sector has in turn adversely affected our national economic growth and the incomes of those who dominate the public sector.
There were preferential policies during the apartheid era to upgrade the living standards of politically dominant white Afrikaner minority among other better-off whites. But apartheid is an immoral regime because it degrades fellow countrymen and refuses to allow that all human beings are equals. Such discriminative preferential policies are not ‘affirmative action’; they are immoral. 
Jomo K.S., et al, ‘Privatizing Malaysia-Rents, Rhetoric, Realities’, Boulder, Colorado/Oxford, Westview Press Inc., 1995.
Mohamed Suffian bin Hashim, Tun, ‘An Introduction to the Constitution of Malaysia’, second edition Kuala Lumpur, Government Printers, 1976.
Supian Ali, Mohd. Zainuddin Saleh et al, ‘Rancangan Malaysia Keenam – Prioriti Pengukuhan Negara’, Penerbit Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, 1994


Friday, May 6, 2011

MCA Represents Chinese Only

Press statement by Dr. Boo Cheng Hau, DAP Johor State Chairman and Central Executive Committee Member issued on 30 April 2011 at Skudai Stat e Assemblyman Service Center, Skudai, Johor Bahru in response to  MCA  President Chua Soi Lek yesterday’s statement that “MCA will  not become part of government at any level if the party's performance in the next general election is worse than what happened in 2008 and   if MCA was unable to gain support from the Chinese community.

MCA President Chua Soi lek’s statement shows that Barisan Nasional component parties are still racially divided and is unable to fulfil the One Malaysia dream where there will be no racial discrimination In Malaysia.
Chua Soi Lek’s statement is seen to intimidate voters especially taking Chinese Malaysians voters at ransom.

I would challenge Barisan Nasional to form a non-racial coalition and all race based component parties such as UMNO and MCA would have to merge and  open to all Malaysians without reference to one’s race and skin colour.

If MCA loses badly in the next General Elections, it not only means that MCA is discarded by Malaysians but racial politics is abandoned by Malaysians. 

Therefore, MCA as a race based party should be dissolved and UMNO should be open to all Malaysians including MCA members into its fold.

Chua Soi Lek’s statement shows that MCA is restrained by racial segregation within Barisan Nasional itself. If Barisan Nasional itself fails to practice non-racial politics but engages  segregationist approach, One Malaysia is seen to be only a rhetoric.

Therefore, if MCA loses badly in the next General Elections, it should push UMNO to open its door to all Malaysians and make a One Malaysian Party first before it is qualified to talk about a One Malaysia dream. If MIC, MCA and UMNO successfully merge as a single all Malaysian party, UMNO can strive for the rights of Non Malays too.

I would like to rebut Chua Soi Lek’s statement that DAP only received Chinese support during last Sarawak State Election. More factually DAP won in most urban areas where urban Sarawak natives support DAP too. 

I would like remind Chua Soi Lek that 70% Chinese electorates supported PAS. Furthermore, PAS has formed a Non Muslim wing officially to open its membership to all Malaysians. It is untrue that Chinese community support DAP to erode Chinese representation in Government  like  the racial slur what Chua coins it “use the Chinese to counter Chinese”.  Urban community especially Chinese voters have supported Pakatan Rakyat because they want more substantive social changes.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dr. Boo Cheng Hau : Bringing Johor Forward Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Dr. Boo Cheng Hau 

: Bringing Johor Forward

Wednesday, January 5, 2011
[THE ROCKET] In this series, the Rocket travels down south to Johor where
 the state DAP Chairman and state assemblyman for Skudai, Dr Boo Cheng Hau
 shares his experiences studying in the Caribbean as well his views on
 Pakatan Rakyat and what the next elections may bring to his beloved state.
Dr. Boo, Johor DAP chairman
Dr. Boo, Johor DAP chairman
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your career thus far.
I was born in Batu Pahat, the hometown of many DAP personalities. I grew up
 and studied in Yong Peng. For my tertiary education, I studied my first degree in
chemistry in the USA. Subsequently, I studied and completed my medical degree in
 University of West Indies, Jamaica. I was one of the first Malaysians to have
graduated from that university, if not that part of the world.

I did my housemanship training in Muar followed by several stints as a government
practitioner in Segamat and Johor Bahru before I decided to go into private practice
 as a general practitioner. Now I have my own medical practice in the Skudai area.

Actually, I also studied law at the University of London.  As for my personal life,
I am married and a father of two children. I began my political career in 1999,
when I stood as a candidate for DAP in the Skudai state seat. I contested
again in Skudai in 2004 and won the seat for the first time in 2008.

You have three degrees in three different fields from different countries. 
With such an impressive background, what made you interested in politics? 
In particular, why did you choose DAP?

I was always interested in politics. I recalled when I was still in secondary school,
I was reading a book by DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang titled “Time Bombs in Malaysia”. It stirred me to know more about the country’s economy, education and
 politics. My interest in politics was piqued as a result. I found my calling in politics.

I decided to enquire about joining DAP so I wrote to the DAP headquarters. But
 perhaps I was too young then because they did not give me reply (laughs). But
after my varsity education and housemanship training in Muar, I became a DAP
member while I was serving in Segamat.

The reason I chose DAP was because I refused to subscribe to the racial brand of
politics that Barisan Nasional practiced. I would have felt very uncomfortable in MCA.
Growing up in a multi-cultural and multiracial society, I have always enjoyed being in
fellowship with non-Chinese acquaintances. Though I came from a Chinese school
 background, I was always at ease with my non-Chinese friends. I have a Malay
friend from my Chinese school days whom I still maintained contact with till this day.

When I was studying in Jamaica, I began to appreciate the vibrancy and strength that
a multi-cultural society has to offer. I concluded that the politics practiced by BN along
 racial lines would be bad for the country.

How do you juggle your roles as a politician, a doctor and a family man? 
What are some of the challenges and issues that an elected representative faces?

I admit that handling the different roles have been challenging for me and my family.
In my first year as an elected representative, most of my time was spent at work and
 politics. Particularly, I missed the time I spent with my children. In the past I would
regularly bring them out to watch movies; that began to change in 2008. My children
 had a difficult time coping with it.

However, I am beginning to cope with these roles. I have been delegating more of my
 duties and responsibilities to my assistants and now I am able to spend some time with
 my family on a more regular basis.

Johor has always been known as the bastion of BN. With all the political 
changes that took place since March 2008, how have things changed in the

There is definitely a sense of change coming to Johor. Some of the Johoreans have rued
 about missing the boat of change that came as a result of the March 2008 general

Johoreans are generally cautious; however that does not mean they do not want
change. Many of them are following the political scenario closely; they are looking
at how Pakatan Rakyat is performing in the states that it controls. If they decide to
change their voting preference away from BN, they will give Pakatan a long t
enure to run the state and country before changing back again.

As an analogy, I would liken the Johoreans’ voting choice to an investor making
 an investment decision. They don’t change easily, but when they change it would
 be for a long time. So in this sense, we are hopeful about the future.

This sense of change is widespread across the state. I have been to FELDA areas
 where Malay settlers are warmer now compared to the past. They are willing to
 attend our ceramahs and ask questions of what we can do for them. So I think
they are willing to give us a chance.

What are the issues that are affecting the political scenario in Johor?

For Johoreans, the focus is generally on bread and butter issues. Some of these
 include rising cost of living, dwindling job opportunities, income levels not rising, bad
 public transportation system and the likes. These issues have brought disillusionment
 to the people in their perception of BN’s capabilities to run the country. It is now
our job to present and explain the alternatives that Pakatan Rakyat can bring to them.

As for the local issues, we see Johor facing poor water management, rising sewerage
 cost and inefficient rubbish collection issues. The performance of the local authorities
 leaves much to be desired.

Another matter of concern is the state government’s growing debt. As of 2009, the Johor government owes RM1.27 billion in public debt. Together with the RM6 billion debt owed
 by the state-owned company Johor Corporation Bhd (JCorp) in which RM3.58 billion
 is due for maturity in 2012, Johor is potentially looking at a debt burden of at least
 RM6.6 billion.

To solve its growing debt, JCorp has been reportedly seeking buyers for its investments
 which include blue chip stocks such as Kulim (Malaysia) Bhd and KFC (Malaysia) Holdings Bhd.

The state government has even resorted to selling land and properties to the federal
 government. JCorp has sold the Plaza Kotaraya office towers to Iskandar Investment
 Bhd (IIB), a federal government linked company. The state government is also looking
 to sell the Customs, Inspections and Quarantine (CIQ) site at Stulang to IIB as well.

As for the Iskandar Malaysia project, the federal government recently allocated RM339 million for 2011 and 2012 for the development of the place. This amount is too small to be able to develop it according to the plan envisioned.

This is due to the federal government’s disproportionate allocation of development budget to the Greater Kuala Lumpur area. The Klang valley area is already saturated with development; the government should instead develop other parts of the country.
Overpriced low cost housing project for civil servants - RM130, 000 each
Overpriced low cost housing project for civil servants - RM130, 000 each
How is Pakatan Rakyat perceived in Johor? What are the sentiments amongst
 the people towards Pakatan?

I am optimistic that we have created a positive impact on the people’s mentality
 towards PR, particularly with the efforts we have put in. After the 2008 elections,
Johor PR formed a secretariat to address organisational matters and common issues
 in the state assembly proceedings. We have now progressed to form coordination
 committees at the district levels. This is to cement a long term working relationship together.

In regards to our prospects, we are capable of denying BN the two-thirds majority in
 the next elections. As for forming the state government here, I think we have to be
 prepared psychologically to face that prospect as well. We cannot say we will be
 the opposition here in Johor forever. We can only remind ourselves as to what
 happened in Selangor in 2008 when PR formed the state government unexpectedly.
If we are to form the state government, it has to be on a solid footing; we need to
 win at least 38 state seats to be secure in governing. We don’t want what happened
to the Perak PR state government in 2009 to occur here.

What are the issues or challenges that PR has to overcome?

PR has to present the solutions that will help the people solve their everyday issues.
 Harping on extreme and controversial ideas such as the Islamic state does not help
us. If we look at past examples such as the communist bloc countries in Eastern
 Europe in the 1980s, we see that mundane issues such as the lack of electricity to
 heat homes in winter caused discontentment amongst the people and contributed
towards the downfall of the government.

In regards to our relationship with other PR parties, there are things to be ironed
 out. We have been working closely with PAS as we have known most of the
 state leaders since the 1990s. However, we do encounter difficulties with PKR
 as they have been changing their state leadership frequently. It takes time to
 communicate and coordinate with their new leadership. Also, I think PKR in
 Johor needs to be more realistic about their ambitions and organisational capabilities.

As our strength is generally in the urban areas, we are able to help the other parties
 in reaching out to the voters there. In the last elections, many of the votes for PAS
 came from the urban areas. We hope that everyone would be sensitive in the
 statements that they make, especially in not championing any particular community’s
cause at the expense of others. Also, we hope our efforts to help other parties will be appreciated.

We will also be facing a new Prime Minister at the helm in BN in the next general
 elections. There will be a “new PM effect” that could cost us many votes; we saw
 that happening with Tun Dr Mahathir in 1982 and Tun Abdullah Badawi in 2004.
We will be facing a tough time in this election. People may want to give Najib Razak
 a chance as he is new to the job. We need to change our strategy to convince the
 people that Najib is just the new PM in the same corrupt BN government. Nothing
 has changed.

What are the challenges for DAP? What do we have to change to progress to the next level?

Our party structure and organisation has to be sound. After the 2008 elections, there
was a big influx of new members to the party. Many of these new members’
background and loyalty are unknown. This may potentially bring problems to
the party. We have had experiences in the past when there was also a big
increase in party membership. Yet just before the general elections commenced,
many of them quit en-masse, causing much embarrassment to the party.

In Johor, we are recruiting members more cautiously. We are screening the new
recruits rigorously, ensuring that they understand our party cause and are loyal
to the struggle. Our branch numbers have been growing steadily at nine percent
since 2008.

In addition, we also need to make DAP more multiracial in our composition. Our leaders need to be more open-minded in reaching out to the different races. We have to take the initiative to reach out to the different segments of the society and the different races. An example could be having more open house events for the different religious and ethnic festivities. This will allows us the opportunity to mingle with those outside of our ethnic and religious community.

In addition, we should try to broaden our outreach efforts to the non-traditional voters by being visible in the areas where they congregate. In Johor, we have embarked on some exercises which include distributing the Malay Roket to members and potential members in the market, speaking at the other PR partners’ ceramahs in the inland areas and organising joint forums on common issues such as Johor’s fiscal situation and water price increase with other PR parties and stakeholders. These efforts will provide us with the platform to reach out to the Malays and Indians.

We are now seeing some of this efforts pay off. Recently we have some Malay settlers from FELDA schemes coming to Johor Bahru and asking us to assist them with land ownership matters. These Malay settlers came to know about us through the news and ceramahs. I also requested the state leaders from PAS to assist in highlighting their issues.

I brought them to the state assembly to witness the debates and they were very happy that it was highlighted. By standing together with other PR party members, we are also showing PR as a united front in helping the people regardless of race or religion.

[THE ROCKET]http://therocket.com.my/en/index.php/2011/01/05/dr-boo-cheng-hau-bringing-johor-forward/

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Where Are We Heading for after Tenang By Election?

Honestly  I  had thought that PAS should be given the priority in Tenang By Election to field its candidate since it has worked there consistently for a along time. Hard work should be paid off with respect and rewards.

After all fighting for a seat contested by Pakatan component party would have tarnished the coalition's image. Support for  PAS in Tenang would regain public confidence that PR was united and a serious force to be reckoned with.

Furthermore PAS would learn how to survive in Malaysian realpolitik where Tenang has  a mixed racial composition of over 50% Non Malays. It was a good opportunity for PAS to test its grounds including both Malays and Non Malays.

Despite PAS national leaders presence, it did not do well among FELDA Malays and maybe slightly better among town Malays in Tenang Jaya. I really have great doubts that PAS Islamic scholars banking on Hudud had actually attracts Malays especially Johor Malays who are known to be soft spoken and cautious towards radical Islamism.

PR component parties have to realise that as compared to Galas By Election DAP had put in a lot of efforts in consolidating Non Malays support towards PAS and PR. But that was not good enough until all PR parties and leaders view all themselves as leaders for all Malaysians and dare to campaign in any areas.

In other words, PR has to re-strategise its non-racial policies and approach in winning all Malaysians' support.  While revolutions are underway in large part of the Arab world, their impact on the largely xenophobic Malay world is still unknown. It may not happen now but never say never.