VEP : A mountain out of RM20 per entry?

JOHOR BAHRU 01 NOVEMBER 2016.  Kenderaan Singapura menggunakan  sistem caj jalanraya (RC) dikenakan bayaran RM20 pada hari pertama perlaksanaan di Kompleks Sultan Abu Bakar, Linkedua, Gelang Patah. NSTP/ZULKARNAIN AHMAD TAJUDDIN
The CIQ Complex at Bangunan Sultan Iskandar, Johor Bahru. (source : wikipedia.org)

The CIQ Complex at Bangunan Sultan Iskandar, Johor Bahru. (source : wikipedia.org)

After two years since it’s intended implementation was first announced (please also see related posts ‘Malaysia, Singapore, Johor and the VEP’ (https://meandpolitics.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/of-malaysia-singapore-johor-and-the-vep/) as well as ‘VEP : An Act of Sabotage?’ (https://meandpolitics.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/the-vep-an-act-of-sabotage/)), the never-ending saga of the implementation of the VEP (or Vehicle Entry Permit) for all foreign-registered cars entering Malaysia is finally over.

Or is it?

To understand the implementation of the program a lot better, a look at the JPJ website at https://vep.jpj.gov.my states that :-

  • ALL foreign –registered vehicles are to register with Road Transport Department (RTD or more commonly known by its Bahasa Malaysia acronym, JPJ). When registering the vehicles the vehicle owners have to produce the necessary documents eg proof of car ownership, insurance etc etc,
  • once registered with the JPJ, these vehicles will be issued non-transferable RFID tags. These RFID tags contains pertinent information with respect to the registered vehicle, and
  • these RFID tags are valid for 5 YEARS

And all these for a processing fee of RM10 (circa RM2.50 or SGD3.30, take your pick).

Once these vehicles are registered and issued the RFID tags, these cars are then permitted to enter the country at any time during that five (5) years the VEP is valid for.

On entering the country, these VEP-registered vehicles are charged a fee called the ROAD CHARGE (RC).  The RC is ….wait for it, RM20 (Yes, its RM20 only) and is charged PER ENTRY (Yes, its PER ENTRY).

The proceeds from the RC is used to offset road maintenance costs, amongst other things.

JOHOR BAHRU 01 NOVEMBER 2016. ( BH JBH380G / METRO JB141J ) Kenderaan Singapura menggunakan sistem caj jalanraya (RC) dikenakan bayaran RM20 untuk masuk ke Malaysia pada hari pertama perlaksanaan di Kompleks Sultan Abu Bakar, Linkedua, Gelang Patah. NSTP/ZULKARNAIN AHMAD TAJUDDIN

Sourced from NST : JOHOR BAHRU 01 NOVEMBER 2016. ( BH JBH380G / METRO JB141J ) Kenderaan Singapura menggunakan sistem caj jalanraya (RC) dikenakan bayaran RM20 untuk masuk ke Malaysia pada hari pertama perlaksanaan di Kompleks Sultan Abu Bakar, Linkedua, Gelang Patah. NSTP/ZULKARNAIN AHMAD TAJUDDIN

After SO MANY DELAYS since its intended implementation was first announced in July 2014 by the Prime Minister himself, the system was finally and officially implemented on 1 November 2016, at the southern entry points of Johor Bahru (at the Causeway) and Gelang Patah (The Second Link).

And even that, it is not yet the finished article as there are exemptions, for one reason or another, currently in place for motor vehicles, government and diplomatic vehicles, as well as public transportation. It has been announced that some of the exemptions will be lifted while some of them will remain in place.

Now that it’s finally up and running, Malaysians have now to contend with the implied threat of retaliation from the Singapore government IF the system that Malaysia implemented is deemed to be discriminatory against Singapore, as reported by Singapore media.

Judging by the tone of the statement…… well, you know where its leading to. (Knowing which member of the Singapore media reported it will indicate to you that it is very very near and most likely to be an official stance of the government of Singapore.)

Come again? Does that mean that the sovereign government of Malaysia is being threatened with retaliation from Singapore for implementing a system designed to monitor and control traffic entering Malaysia? Like I said earlier, come again!?

It is public knowledge that ALL foreign-registered vehicles entering Singapore has to register with the Land Transport Authority of Singapore (LTA), with supporting documents (but of course).

Upon registering, a plastic card called the AUTOPASS is issued to the owners of these foreign-vehicles. One vehicle, one AUTOPASS.

The AUTOPASS basically controls the entry of your vehicle into Singapore and upon exit, tells you how much you have to fork out for driving on the roads of Singapore, what with the different gantries and charges and the likes.

Upon exiting, it is best to make sure your AUTOPASS has enough credit to pay for all these charges including the VEP (that is if you have used up your free quota of 10 days a year and that it’s not a weekend or a Singapore public holiday or not between the hours of 6pm to 6 am (I think)), otherwise you will be fined an additional sum of money for not having enough credit to begin with, all of which has to be paid PRIOR to exit.

But just how much is the Singapore VEP?

Last I checked, its SGD35 (RM105 or USD25 thereabouts) for private vehicles and SGD40 (RM120 or USD30 thereabouts) for commercial transport vehicles. That was when the then VEP rates were increased from SGD20 and SGD10 in August 2014.

Since then, I have not checked and it has been a long time since I checked.

Sourced from NST : JOHOR BAHRU 01 NOVEMBER 2016. Kenderaan Singapura menggunakan sistem caj jalanraya (RC) dikenakan bayaran RM20 pada hari pertama perlaksanaan di Kompleks Sultan Abu Bakar, Linkedua, Gelang Patah. NSTP/ZULKARNAIN AHMAD TAJUDDIN

Sourced from NST : JOHOR BAHRU 01 NOVEMBER 2016. Kenderaan Singapura menggunakan sistem caj jalanraya (RC) dikenakan bayaran RM20 pada hari pertama perlaksanaan di Kompleks Sultan Abu Bakar, Linkedua, Gelang Patah. NSTP/ZULKARNAIN AHMAD TAJUDDIN

Looking at them Singapore VEP rates, I guess that’s why my Malaysian friends who work in Singapore drive to work in Singapore-registered vehicles. Otherwise, they will be contributing more to Singapore that what they get paid by working in Singapore.

I mean, 10 VEP-free days can only go so far and people do work for more than 10 days in a year and yes, I do believe people work to get paid and not pay to work.

It works out for the betterment of the Singapore economy I guess. Auto traders have a business where people buy and sell cars, both new and second-hand. That plus the 10-year ruling, of course.

Workshops in Singapore too would be gainfully employed, with repair and servicing jobs. Otherwise, there might be one less economic activity in Singapore and lots more people with lots of idle time on their hands.

Now if the Singapore authorities want to ‘retaliate’ and ‘match’ Malaysia’s actions for daring to do what it just did, by all means, IF that ‘retaliation’ means that the Singapore VEP is reduced to the RM-equivalent of RM20 per entry.

But in all honesty, I seriously doubt that the Singapore authorities will ever reduce the VEP rates. Increase, yes. Reduce, hhmmmm. But miracles have been known to happen.

In the same tone, Malaysia can also claim that when Singapore implemented their VEP, it was discriminatory against Malaysia. I mean, is there any other country which has land links to the island? And was Malaysia ever consulted? What are the odds of that ever happening? Be consulted that is. And will it ever happen in the future? Your answer is as good as mine.

The Second Link (source : wikipedia.org)

The Second Link (source : wikipedia.org)

But seriously folks, is the Singapore government making a mountain out of RM20 per entry? IT IS PER ENTRY, you know. And the maximum a Singapore-registered vehicle or any foreign-registered vehicle for that matter, can stay in Malaysia is three (3) months. That’s theoretically RM0.22 (USD0.05, SGD0.07) per day for the maximum 90 days. Not even the price of a French fries at the neighbourhood McD, I would suggest.

And three months is definitely far longer than the period a FOREIGN national is permitted to come in and stay in Malaysia. Just have a look at your Singapore passports.

Being kiasu does have its limits you know. It may be the accepted norm in Singapore but when dealing with another country who is no less sovereign and independent than you are (as you would like to impress upon everybody), too much kiasu and it’ll border on being ridiculous, never mind offensive.

Thing is, no one’s laughing.

Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, ‘Animal Feed’ & the DAP

ngaduitraya2 (malaysiandigest.com)
Nga Kor Ming of the DAP (image sourced from kualalumpurpost.net)

Nga Kor Ming of the DAP (image sourced from kualalumpurpost.net)

The political scene in Malaysia is really getting ridiculous and is fast becoming irrelevant.

What was once a platform to unite the rakyat is now a platform to divide the rakyat, what with the dissemination of misinformation and disinformation, as well as the dissemination of unfounded and mischievious allegations.

Almost everything is given a political twist and I guess, it would not be long before someone going to the loo to ‘do his personal business’ will also be politicized. How, I would not know but we’ll get there, I’m sure although I would love to be proven wrong.

The most recent ‘piece of work’ involves a politician from the Opposition (who else!) whose aim in life it seems, is to depict everything Malay, be it customs, culture, religion (quoting the Holy Quran to Muslims during political lectures when he himself is not a Muslim really takes the cake!), traditions, and leaders (political, community and royalty) in bad light. In short, everything that a Malay holds dear.

It is common knowledge that Muslims the world over had just observed the holy month of Ramadan, where Muslims fast from day break til sun down. As the holy month of Ramadan draws to an end, as it has always been the case, Muslims begin to make preparations to celebrate the coming of Syawal.

Homes are cleaned and spruced up to make even the most runned down of houses look brand new. As is the custom, the departed are not forgotten with the graves of loved ones cleaned and prayers offered.

These are just some of the preparations that Muslims undertake, to welcome the holy and joyous month of Syawal.

This first day of Syawal is quite commonly known the world over as Eid Mubarak or as we know it in Malaysia, Hari Raya Aidil Fitri.

In fact, Muslims are commanded to celebrate Syawal, so as to signal the successful observation of the holy month of Ramadan, so much so we are forbidden to fast on the first day of Syawal.

Why forbidden, you might ask?

Well, Muslims are exhorted to fast for six days in the month of Syawal, where the fasting during these six days in Syawal together with the fasting in the holy month of Ramadan is said to be equivalent to fasting for a year. Whether these six days of fasting is done on a continuous basis or staggered over the month of Syawal, it does not matter.

thD8JHTCHJ (umno-online.net)

Giving out money packets to the little ‘uns, part of the Hari Raya Aidil Fitri tradition (image sourced from umno-online.my)

In Malaysia, Hari Raya Aidil Fitri or Eid Mubarak, as a religious festival, starts with morning Aidil Fitri prayers.

Once the prayers are over, the congregation returns to their respective homes where a long standing family tradition of seeking each other’s forgiveness for the past year’s transgressions is enacted : children seeking forgiveness from parents and of parents from their children, wives from their husbands and husbands from their wives.

Basically and essentially, everyone seeks each other’s forgiveness.

Once the soul cleansing is done and relations are renewed, comes the part where the little ‘uns look forward to very much every Hari Raya Aidil Fitri – the giving out of little packets of money called ‘Duit Hari Raya’, the amount of which depends on the one giving out these packets.

Fathers hand out these money packets to their children (for so long as they are not married and/or working yet), husbands to wives, children (matured and gainfully employed) to their parents (normally aged), grandparents to grandchildren and so on.

All this is enacted within the family structure and it gives Hari Raya Aidil Fitri a ‘feel good’ and joyous start to the day.

The scene is replayed over and over again when we pay a visit to friends, relatives and family members at their homes, spread good cheer and greetings between one another.

We drink (no alcohol of course), we eat and we make merry and we seek each other’s forgiveness and we give money packets to the little ‘uns, aged relatives, friends and the needy that we come across.

This theme is replayed in many different scenarios – old folks’ homes, orphanages, and what have you.

Nga Kor Ming - likes courting controversy? (image sourced from utusan.com.my)

Nga Kor Ming – likes courting controversy? (image sourced from utusan.com.my)

Hence, to suddenly read that a non-Muslim, non Malay opposition ‘leader’ and parliamentarian who claims to have grown up in multi racial Malaysia, calling the giving out and receiving of the money packets by Muslims especially our Muslim leaders as ‘bribes’ and ‘animal feed’, is not only TOTALLY uncalled for and TOTALLY out of line BUT it is also an INSULT to the Muslim and Malay communities whose festivity this is.

If he must be reminded, then let him be reminded that the giving out of money packets do not only happen during Hari Raya Aidil Fitri but also Chinese New Year, where the only difference is the colour of the packets but the intentions remains essentially the same.

There are also other celebrations that money packets are given out eg weddings, feasts or to use the local word for it, ‘kenduris’ etc where money packets are given by guests to the host, to lessen his financial ‘burden’ in holding the feast or kenduri in the first place.

Are these considered bribes? Are these considered ‘animal feeds’? If these are ‘animal feeds’, then is the ‘Honourable’ member of Parliament saying that the receiver is an ‘animal’?

Claiming to be misquoted or that your social media accounts were hacked or hijacked by cybertroopers do not hold water any more. Remember the boy who cried wolf?

Furthermore, if the ‘Honourable’ MP remembers correctly, whose interests did the cybertroopers of the Red Bean Army served before and during the last two elections? Well, for sure it ain’t the Government or the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.

TheMp and his offending posting (image sourced from malaysiandigest.com)

The MP and his offending post (image sourced from malaysiandigest.com)

For the ‘Honourable’ MP and the DAP head of Perak state, as they say, please put your brain ‘into gear’ before letting your mouth ‘run off’.

Or is it already ‘in gear’ when your mouth ‘ran off’?

If so, as the popular saying goes, you will reap what you sow and from his track record thus far, it does not look nor smell good.

The times they’re a changing.

The 6th and current Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato' Sri Najib Tun Razak (sourced from wikipedia.org)

The 6th and current Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak (sourced from wikipedia.org)

These are trying times. Yet they are also interesting times. Interesting, because to borrow an English phrase, the game’s afoot.

And whats more interesting, nobody actually knows what the game is but from the look of it, we shall know pretty soon as it slowly makes its way out to the open.

How soon will it be? Within the next five years, from the look of it. And with the next general election sandwiched in between.

But then again, the game has been ongoing for at least for a few decades, and in between at least three general elections have been held. So whats another few more years.

What game you might ask? And when did start?

In all honesty, in my humble opinion, the game started the day the grand old man of Malaysian politics, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed (Tun M), publicly and unexpectedly announced his resignation as both President of the ruling party UMNO and Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Of course, he had to withdraw his resignation after being publicly persuaded there and then to do so by members of UMNO’s Supreme Council. Talk about drama. Even the Dallas scriptwriters could not have scripted it any better, and they thought the ‘who shot JR?’ was the pinnacle of drama.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the 4th and longest serving Prime Minister (images sourced from independent.co.uk)

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the 4th and longest serving Prime Minister (image sourced from independent.co.uk)

After all, it was so unexpected and the timing caught everybody by surprise.

To use the common man’s language, coarse as it may be but so apt under the circumstances, everybody, and I do mean everybody, were caught napping with their pants down to their ankles. Even members of the Opposition. If they would admit to that.

The conventional wisdom then was that Tun M would continue on and would most probably pass away in office.

And that would most probably take years as Tun M was seen to be still in the best of health despite having had a bypass several years before that.

Everybody knew that the Tun M would not and could not last forever but things were cosy and everybody was comfortable, safe in the knowledge that the Old Man was up there, managing the country. Even the Opposition, if only they will admit it.

A succession plan had been put into place in anticipation of such an event that had unfolded but then again, the Grand Old Man of Malaysian politics has never taken kindly to hints that its time to make way for younger leaders, never mind a suggestion voiced out in public, no matter how diplomatic and reverential the language may be.

But judging by the big names that were part of the succession plan who had fallen by the wayside or out of favour, to be included in the succession plan seems to be like signing up for the soon-to-be-out-of-a-job market to anybody interested. Bar one.

Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the 3rd Deputy Prime Minister during Tun Mahathir's Administration (image sourced from penangmalays.com)

Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the 3rd Deputy Prime Minister during Tun Mahathir’s Administration (image sourced from penangmalays.com)

And we all know what happened to him. Later. Perhaps.

But resign the Old Man did, with the overwhelming thanks of a grateful nation. Seriously grateful for who would have thought Tun M could drag this country out of the predicament that was the Asian Financial Crisis, by the scruff of the neck and in so doing, go against all the practices and wisdom of almost all financial gurus and experts.

Who would have thought that the country’s agro-based economy would have been totally replaced by a industrialized-based economy within a decade or so?

Who would have thought that Malaysia would have been that adventurous and that forward thinking by phasing in an economy that was based on knowledge and information technology?

The excitement surrounding the grand design was so contagious that even the Singapore PAP-led government was getting nervous of the possibility of being replaced as THE IT-savvy country in the region.

Tun M’s accomplishments as Prime Minister were so many and numerous that it was safe to say that Tun M was THE MAN. Go to any part of the world and they would probably have a slight problem telling you where exactly Malaysia is but tell them that you come from the land of the Petronas Twin Towers and have Tun M as your leader, everybody would know who or what you are – you are Malaysian.

Tun Musa Hitam, the 1st Deputy Prime Minister during the Mahathir Administration (image sourced from wief.org)

Tun Musa Hitam, the 1st Deputy Prime Minister during the Mahathir Administration (image sourced from wief.org)

Upon his retirement, the so-called Anointed One did not get anointed having suffered the ignominy of being relieved/sacked/fired (depending from which side of the political fence you are from) from the position of Deputy Prime Minister by the Old Man himself, and having suffered in silence as he watched another of Penang’s political sons, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, took the oath of high office and walked into The Prime Minister’s Department as the 5th Prime Minister of Malaysia, came out with a vengeance, doing everything possible to claim the position for himself.

Now being Prime Minister is not like what is portrayed in Yes Prime Minister. Or is it? But being The Man of the moment, everybody look up to you and look at what you do and how you do it.

I once remembered making a statement at a senior level executive seminar, saying that whoever takes over from Tun M will have a VERY big pair of shoes to fill.

And to make it worse, whether he will be allowed to fill those shoes? Question is, must it be the same old shoes that the new man-in-charge has to fill? Or he fills his own pair, metaphorically speaking?

Well, fast forward to 2015. One Prime Minister down (it’s no secret that he was forced out of office no matter how you spin it) and it seems now that there’s an attempt to force another one out as well. And a very serious attempt at that. And we all thought that was the case for sitting Deputy Prime Ministers.

Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the 4th Deputy Prime Minister of the Mahathir Administration and the first DPM from Tun M's administration to hold the office of Prime Minister, becoming the 5th PM of Malaysia (image sourced from telegraph.co.uk)

Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the 4th Deputy Prime Minister of the Mahathir Administration and the first DPM from Tun M’s administration to hold the office of Prime Minister, becoming the 5th PM of Malaysia (image sourced from telegraph.co.uk)

The ironic thing is that ‘it was all done for the love of the country and for the love of UMNO’. But is it really? If that is so, then the whole plan must have gone pear-shaped for it is UMNO who is now suffering and be extension, the Malays.

Not the so-called elite but the normal folks. Remember them? The ones who have to work very hard and struggle to put food on the table for the family, put the clothes on their backs, schooled their kids and all this, in a climate of insecurity, both in body and in spirit, and a rising cost of living.

Without UMNO, where would the Malays be? Who would look after their interests, never mind the other races. And without UMNO, what is to become of Barisan Nasional?

We would be deluding ourselves if we say the ‘alliance’ of PKR, DAP and PAS would be the alternative. But if you are talking about the alternative to having peace and harmony, mutual respect, and the guarantee of the rights of all concerned including the Malays and the Bumiputras, then the answer would be a resounding YES.

In my humble opinion, no Prime Minister worth his salt can be expected to be a rubber-stamp Prime Minister. It makes a mockery of that exalted position of high office.

Tun Ghaffar Baba, the 2nd Deputy Prime Minister of Tun M's administration. (image sourced from freemalaysiatoday.com)

Tun Ghaffar Baba, the 2nd Deputy Prime Minister of Tun M’s administration. (image sourced from freemalaysiatoday.com)

In the same vein, no two Prime Ministers are the same, as the technology to make clones of yourself has not yet being perfected, even on animals (to the best of my knowledge).

And we have not considered yet the ethical and moral ramifications of such a technological feat, never mind losing the ‘fun’ factor of trying to procreate.

Times do change and the clock does tick. Priorities have to be re-assessed and the best of plans have to be modified. But it seems attitudes have remained the same.

Backstabbing, gossiping, spreading lies and rumours, pitting one against the other are some of the shenanigans that we have seen grown over the years. Ironically, with the help of the very tools that we thought would make our society more informed and knowledgeable.

It was Facebook and Youtube, and today its Whatsapp, Wechat, Telegram and other forms of social media. Printed media is OUT, so decreed the Opposition as its government controlled. Well, with whats happening now, cyberspace is Opposition controlled and we can see what’s happening there.

That is, if we care enough to look and brave enough to acknowledge. So what is the difference? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Or is it the other way around?

Yes, these are interesting times. Yet they are also worrying and frightening times. With keyboard warriors pounding away in the safety of their homes and in the anonymity of the identities, these are indeed worrying and frightening times.

A House Divided….Collapsing Soon?

Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim, de facto head of PKR (source : therakyatpost.com)

Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, de facto head of PKR (source : therakyatpost.com)

The house that Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim (or more commonly referred to DSAI) built is in danger of collapsing. And no, it’s not the one that people come to refer to as Istana Segambut (literally translated as the Segambut Palace).

(Why is that referred to as a palace is anyone’s guess as palaces are for royal families, and DSAI, as far as I know, is NOT royalty. Even the Prime Minister’s official residence is call Sri Perdana. But i digress, as always.)

This house that DSAI built is called Pakatan Rakyat (PR or in English, loosely translated as the People’s Alliance) and is in danger of collapsing. Not that political observers did not expect it to happen. It was rather a matter of ‘when’.

Many a time has the house came in danger of doing just that. Collapsing that is. A house built where the common thread is the lust for power, and nothing else, surely would not last. As they always say, verily a house built for all the wrong reasons will never last.

Sorry, let me correct myself. There are other common grounds, as events involving the PR have shown over the years. The lust for power, the lust for rioting, the belief that they are above the laws of this blessed land, the belief that their demands must be met (no matter how ludicrous it may be), the belief that they alone are representative of the people of this nation we called Malaysia, and the penchant for self-righteousness where everybody else is wrong and only they are right and knows whats best for the country and the citizenry.

The Strange Bedfellows of PKR, DAP and PAS

The Strange Bedfellows of PKR, DAP and PAS

And now, the house that DSAI built is on the edge of the precipice. With the Spinmeister away on an enforced sabbatical as decreed by Malaysia’s Federal Court, the apex court of the land, the ‘glue’ is going to go dry and the creaking walls will soon be giving way, never mind the gardens and the kitchen sink.

The house that DSAI built, for whatever reason he and his minions might say, is made up of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR or literally, the People’s Justice Party), the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti se Islam Semenanjung (PAS).

Separately, they are no match for the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN), who has in its current form as well as its previous form, the Alliance, ruled and administered the country ever since Independence in 1957.

But when DSAI put together the PR, they were able to not only challenge the BN but also in some states, defeated the BN and wrested control of the State Legislative Assembly. At the height of PR’s soon-to-be-shortened-life, they gained control and power in five out of the thirteen states namely Selangor, Kelantan, Penang, Kedah and Perak.

Well, PAS will argue that Kelantan was already theirs to begin with and that Selangor, Kedah, Perak and Penang came after the PR was cobbled together.

And now, when, as the song goes..’the end is near’, its maybe good to look back on the reasons why this house they called PR is on the verge of collapsing.

Where shall we begin? But first, a health warning as it can get pretty convoluted and thus not good for your mental health.

First there was the saga (can it really be described as a Saga) of the Kajang Move, which led to the debacle called the Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) Selangor Comedy Show. Somewhere along the way there was also another comedy show playing called the PKR Party Elections.

khalidibrahim(keadilandaily.com)In all this the victim is now the former Menteri Besar of Selangor Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, who everybody agrees has done no wrong as Chief Minister. His fault was to be the Chief Minister when its coveted by somebody else.

As for the biggest loser, well take your pick. The contestants are :-

(a) the newly elected State Assemblyman for the state seat of Kajang (hence the Kajang Move, geddit?) who resigned for personal reasons and in so doing put the vacated state seat on a silver platter to DSAI, who was thought to be a shoo-in for the state seat and thus a shoo-in as the newly minted Menteri Besar of Selangor. Or so he thought.

His (the newly elected and later to become the new ex State Assemblyman, and all within a few months) identity is best kept secret. He too would agree for what he did was embarassing and irresponsible enough as it is,

(b) DSAI, who is said to have wanted and then not wanted and later ‘reluctantly agreed’ to be the Chief Minister of the state. That is until he was disallowed to contest, where he then insisted on PKR’s party president contest in his place. Trouble is, the party president is also his wife which everybody knew.

(c) the parliamentary seat of Permatang Pauh in Penang especially those who voted for him during the last general elections who expressed their displeasure to him for even thinking of abandoning Permatang Pauh to be the new Chief Minister of Selangor. He placated them by saying that he won’t abandon them and all was well again. Or so they thought.

(d) the state seat of Kajang who thought they had an Assemblyman until they were told that he had resigned for personal reasons, and who were later told that DSAI would be their new Assemblyman only to be told later that he can’t contest and thus the new Assemblyman would be PKR’s party president who is also DSAI’s wife. That they all knew.

Dato' Seri Wan Azizah (sourced from keadilandaily.com)

Dato’ Seri Wan Azizah
(sourced from keadilandaily.com)

(e) DSAI’s wife and PKR party president DSWA (short for Dato’ Seri Wan Azizah) who initially said she was not interested to contest but later said she was interested and duly got herself elected as the new assemblyman for Kajang, and therefore, a shoo-in for the post of Chief Minister of Selangor. Or so they thought.

(f) And the last contestant is the people of the state of Selangor, who unknowingly and through no fault of their own (except to elect PR as the governing party) got played and taken for a ride, all for one man’s quest for power.

I did say it was pretty convoluted and all this while the party was having a party election.

The winner in all this is also the state of Selangor who discovered that their Sultan is a pretty fine and politically savvy ruler who has the welfare of his state and his subjects at heart. As are all Rulers, despite what some people might or have even said.

The debacle continued when the DAP and PAS then coming into the picture, with each taking different positions on the DSWA being the new Chief Minister of Selangor. PAS was not all amused with the shenanigans connected to the Kajang Move and questioned the need to replace the then Chief Minister, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim. They even went on record to oppose the nomination of DSWA as the new Chief Minister and wanted Tan Sri Khalid retained as Chief Minister.

DAP then went on record supporting the nomination of DSWA as the new Chief Minister to replace Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim as the Chief Minister.

The sacking of Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim as a party member of PKR, never mind being the treasurer of the party, was thought to ease the way for DSWA  to take the hot seat until PAS stated their stand, disagreeing with PKR and DAP.

HRH The Sultan of Selangor (sourced from selangor.gov.my)

HRH The Sultan of Selangor
(sourced from selangor.gov.my)

In all this going-ons, the role of the Sultan of Selangor was overlooked until it was discovered that the Sultan can decide who gets to be Chief Minister, regardless who it may be, for so long as the demands of the State Constitution are met.

The ramifications of the grab for the position of Chief Minister of Selangor was far-reaching despite the PR statements made by the leaders of the respective parties and DSAI himself.

The PAS party elections are coming soon and if last year’s PAS Muktamar (or General Assembly) was anything to go by, then PAS can look forward to a lot of blood-letting, especially with members of PAS’ leadership, PAS MPs and State Assemblymen who, despite being PAS members, seems to owe their loyalty and allegiance to DSAI rather to their party president, Dato’ Seri Hadi Awang (DSHA).

Dubbed ‘Anwarinas’, the writing seems to be on the wall for the cleansing of the party’s leadership and representatives who does not seem to have the party’s interest at stake but rather DSAI’s.

DAP too seems to have problems of their own. All is quiet on the RoS front on the issue of the party elected leadership and the directive of re-conducting party elections.

That and their positioning on the issue of the Chief Minister of Selangor which bordered on being insolent to the institution of the Sultan did not reflect well on the party especially when it comes to debunking the notion that they are anything but a multiracial party. It has also showed itself to be a party who has no respect for the institution of the Malay Sultans.

Karpal Singh (sourced from astroawani.com)

Karpal Singh
(sourced from astroawani.com)

The passing of the late Karpal Singh, Member of Parliament, Chairman of DAP as well as the family head in a traffic accident was a big loss to DAP as there is no one of stature big enough to challenge and negate the Lim father and son grip on DAP.

The fact that the late Karpal’s family comprises of mainly lawyers who also double up as members of the Malaysia Parliament as well as members of at least two state Assemblies should also be noted. It is significant.

Whereas the passing of the much respected Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, MP, former Chief Minister of Kelantan and spiritual leader of PAS, left a big void in PAS politics. Or so it seems.

But the fact of the matter is that his legacy and baton has been passed on to his son, Mohamad Abduh, who also happens to be the MP for Pasir Mas.

Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat (sourced from Astroawani.com)

Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat
(sourced from Astroawani.com)

The straw that is now breaking the camel’s back is the recent tabling of Hudud Laws in the Kelantan State Assembly by the PAS state government.

Passed by the Assembly, PAS is now preparing to table it as a Private Member’s bill in Parliament. Whether it is going to be this sitting or the next sitting of Parliament, it remains to be seen.

But it is, with the reactions and the statements from the DAP leadership and rebuttals and statements from the PAS leadership, PKR is being caught in the middle with priorities mixed between family and party, the house that DSAI built is starting to crumble.

And all this started when three strange bedfellows decided to come together and demonstrate to the Malaysian public what a house that they build can be like.

If seeing is believing, should it ever come to the PR forming the Federal Government, then be prepared to move in with umbrellas, extra water storage tanks, a thick skin and ear plugs, for no amount of mortar can be used to cement the cracks in the house that they build.

The Cold War : Back Again?

The First World War (1914-1918) (source : docstoc.com)

The First World War (1914-1918)
(source : docstoc.com)

People of my generation may have not lived through the two World Wars (how it can be referred to as the two Great Wars is somehow beyond my comprehension) but we definitely know and learned of it, either from our school books or from our parents and/or our relatives, who by now, would have most likely departed for the afterlife.

So widespread were the two World Wars that many lives were affected, some even scarred for the remainder of their lives. The brutality of it, the loss of countless lives, both combatants and non-combatants, and the sheer waste of it all. It was a cleansing of sorts, on a global basis.

Fighting in the trenches of the WW1 (source : bl.uk)

Fighting in the trenches of the WW1
(source : bl.uk)

But as the saying goes, all that has happened has its lessons. That is IF we only learned from it. But that may be easier said than done, especially when the generation that had to live through the two World Wars are no more around to remind us of the ‘great wars’ and all that it represented and how they came about.

If my generation did not live through the World Wars, most of us definitely lived through that other ‘war’, The Cold War. The war that was not a war but yet a war, by all accounts. A war of different ideologies and a war of influence, where the main players were the United States, the now-defunct Soviet Union (or USSR) and to a lesser extent, China.

WW1 - Inspecting the troops. (source : bbc.com)

WW1 – Inspecting the troops.
(source : bbc.com)

The demarcation in the battle of ideology and influence between the US and the USSR was the Iron Curtain, with the curtain dividing Europe into Eastern Europe (where the USSR and all that it represents reign supreme) and Western Europe (where it was likewise for the US and all that it represents).

Second World War - 1939-1945. (source : buildyourlibrary.com)

Second World War – 1939-1945.
(source : buildyourlibrary.com)

A symbol of the Cold War was the Berlin Wall, which separated East Berlin and East Germany from West Berlin. Until the Berlin Wall came down, West Berlin was essentially cut off from the rest of the so-called Free World by a wall surrounding it, technically leaving West Berlin at the mercy of East Germany and its benefactor, the USSR.

Hitler in Paris  (source : bbc.co.uk)

Hitler in Paris
(source : bbc.co.uk)

Sounds familiar? Its happening today, just that no-one wants to acknowledge it. If what is happening to the people of Gaza today were to happen to the people of West Berlin then, it would have been a foregone conclusion that the combined might of the Free World (whatever that may imply) would intervene, not only politically but also militarily.

Remember JFK’s famous ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech? If I remember correctly, that speech by JFK was delivered in West Berlin amidst that kind of a political backdrop.

Mao Ze Dong and Stalin (source : wikipedia.org)

Mao Ze Dong and Stalin
(source : wikipedia.org)

Whatever JFK may have been in his private life, politically he is one to be admired, not only for the “Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech but also for the way he handled the Cuban crisis, which basically lead to a standoff or détente with the USSR all over the world.

In recent times, when Gaza was pounded day in and day out, until the death toll passed the 1,500 mark, a mark made up of almost entirely civilians (read that as children, women and old folks), we have yet to see a leader of the Free World stand up for the plight of the Gazans. Will we ever? Is there a difference between what happened to West Berlin and what is happening to Gaza? One could even argue that what is happening to Gaza today is far worse than what happened to West Berlin at the height of the West Berlin blockade.

John F Kennedy - Ich bin ein Berliner (source : history.com)

John F Kennedy – Ich bin ein Berliner
(source : history.com)

On the Asian front, ironically, despite having a common basic ideology with the USSR, the Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC) were on most occasions at loggerheads with USSR, especially when it came to the North Koreans. After all, the PRC believed that North Korea is part of Asia and therefore it and Asia should come under the PRC’s ambit. That and the difference in ideology adopted by both these champions of communism and socialism.

To enforce this belief, the PRC effected a Bamboo Curtain to stop USSR from influencing Asian countries to follow USSR’s way and hence at the same time allowed the PRC to engage the US in a ‘game’ not too dissimilar to the ‘game’ being played between the US and the USSR in battleground Europe. But this time, the battleground was Asia, more importantly in the Pacific and South China Sea regions.

The Berlin Wall - a symbol of the Cold War (source : wikipedia.org)

The Berlin Wall – a symbol of the Cold War
(source : wikipedia.org)

The Cold War came to an end of sorts when the people of East Germany and essentially the people of East Berlin started chipping away at the Berlin Wall and ended up bringing it down. The USSR followed that up by self imploding with each nation making up the USSR declaring independence and set upon a path of self-rule and self-determination. The same thing happened in the Baltics with Yugoslavia now just a memory in the not so distant past.

In all honesty, some were more equipped than others for independence and self-determination, and some paid a higher price than others for daring to declare their independence but that was the scenario then. Some view it as a victory for the US and all that it stood for eg capitalism, rock and roll music, McDonalds, Coca Cola and the Levis jeans. But realistically, it was the scarcity of food, jobs and meaningful development that triggered the ‘revolution’ that pushed socialism to the side.

The bombing of Gaza - Why? Fair price? (source : independent.co.uk)

The bombing of Gaza – Why? Fair price?
(source : independent.co.uk)

With the breakdown of the USSR bloc, the US, via NATO, expanded their sphere of influence further afield to other nations, nations who themselves were once part of the USSR bloc and nations who shared a common border with the Russian Federation.This expansion prompted Russia, who had by then taken up the mantle left by the USSR to voice out their displeasure at this turn of events.

In the case of China, they turn inwards amidst the changes happening within China, attitudes and all, especially after the deaths of Mao ZeDong and Chou Enlai. It took that giant of a small man, Deng XiaoPing, who himself had been sidelined in the years before, to take China by the horns and pushed it forward, even to the point of embracing capitalism, China-style. In my view, China would not be the China of today if not for that man, Deng XiaoPing.

Victims of the atrocity known as the bombing of Gaza. Is it worth it? (source : presstv.ir)

Victims of the atrocity known as the bombing of Gaza. Is it worth it?
(source : presstv.ir)

But with the events of the last decade or so, with the rise of that man, Putin, in Russia and recent events involving that troubled state Ukraine including the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines MH17, the urge and attempts by the US to reassert their authority and position as numero uno, the new world order as espoused by the recent past presidents of the US, the siege mentality suffered by the US as stated by GW Bush’s ‘either you with us or against us’, the rise of China, now also an economic superpower to go together with its military might, pushing its claim on the Spratly islands as well as disputes with Japan and Korea involving islands within the vicinity, the feeling of total injustice as suffered by the people of Gaza, the feeling of being disenfranchised in their country of birth eg Iraq, the dissemination of misinformation and disinformation via the prominence of the Internet and the impact of social media, if not handled carefully, could lead to, God forbid, a Third World War.

The demarcation of Europe - The Cold War. (source : wikipedia.org)

The demarcation of Europe – The Cold War.
(source : wikipedia.org)

All these events have been, at one point or another, have revealed themselves in events leading up to the First and Second World Wars. Since a Third World War would be the most devastating war ever, a war that everybody loses everything and there are absolutely no winners, a war where everybody is at war with everybody else, it is a war that everybody would take great pains to avoid from ever starting.

But a Cold War? A war that is not a war? Ever so probable and ever so likely, one would say.

IF IT HASN’T STARTED YET.

 

MH17 : Dignity and Justice

Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia Airlines

When Malaysia Airlines MH17 was shot down by a missile over the troubled eastern region of Ukraine, fingers were all too readily pointing at the rebel forces of Ukraine and by extension, the rebels’ benefactor and backer, Russia, laying the blame squarely at their feet.

It needs, however, to be pointed out that it is always convenient, as per human nature, to point fingers at any one party when something like in the case of the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines MH17, a passenger plane, a non-combatant and that belonging to a country not at all involved in the squabble, happens. And in most cases, in which direction the finger is pointed is dependent upon which side of the fence the parties are sided.

It is therefore very heartening and a very proud moment when the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato’ Seri Najib, despite the sad and heart wrenching situation that is Malaysia Airlines MH17, the Prime Minister had kept his cool and states Malaysia’s stance for clear-cut and definite evidence before laying the blame for Malaysia Airlines MH17 on any one party.

Prime Minister, YAB Dato'Sri Mohamad Najib

Prime Minister, YAB Dato’Sri Mohamad Najib

Not only the Prime Minister reminded every one of the priorities at hand but also of Malaysia’s rights and stand in the whole affair ie Malaysia MUST be involved in every aspect and facet of the investigation. Nothing BUT.

Malaysia’s insistence of being involved in every aspect and facet of the investigation is not an attempt to politicize the shooting down of MH17 but rather, can be seen as not only an effort to gain expertise and knowledge in areas that Malaysia is lacking but also as an attempt to remind the whole world that the passenger plane that was shot down is Malaysian, some of the passengers were Malaysian and the crew was definitely Malaysian. Therefore, Malaysia has the right to have its views and its opinions heard and not be drowned by the clamouring of other parties pursuing an agenda.

Malaysia’s stance on wanting clear and irrefutable evidence on who did what to Malaysia Airlines MH17 is consistent with Malaysia’s foreign policy and its time-honoured practices. It must be remembered that human nature dictates that NOBODY wants to be blamed for doing a bad deed especially when they are not guilty of the deed. That is until and unless there is clear and irrefutable evidence to the contrary.

However, when Malaysia Airlines MH17 was shot down, so fast were the fingers pointing at the rebel forces of Ukraine and Russia, and followed equally fast by threats of military actions and economic sanctions, the fact that the plane that was shot down was a Malaysian passenger plane was somehow overlooked, with Malaysia’s rights and concerns with regards to the whole episode given scant recognition. In short, Malaysia’s role in the aftermath of the shooting down of MH17 was in danger of being ‘hijacked’.

In The Air - Malaysian Airlines (source : wikipedia.org)

In The Air – Malaysian Airlines (source : wikipedia.org)

Statement after statement were released, by the US and the EU threatening this and threatening that, that the most basic of legal practice in both the US and the Commonwealth in that you are presumed innocent until you have been proven guilty, beyond any reasonable doubt, was somehow forgotten.

However, in saying that, PLEASE do not assume that this post is saying that the rebel forces and Russia are innocent BUT what this post is saying is that, to put blame on anybody, a thorough investigation has to be carried out and irrefutable evidence must be adduced. Otherwise, we are not practising what we preach.

In the aftermath of the shooting down of MH17, like it or not, Malaysia has shown that it can take the lead and that Malaysia still recognizes what the priorities are, of which first and foremost, was to recover all the remains of the passengers and crew of MH17, and to treat the remains with the respect and dignity that any human being, of whatever faith or religious belief, demands.

Once the remains have all been recovered, then comes the technicalities of a proper, competent and thorough investigation which, considering the complexities of the situation surrounding the shooting down of MH17, must not only be fair but must also be seen to be fair.

All manner of evidence must be collected and submitted for proper and thorough analysis by not only the most competent of authorities but also authorities that are above reproach. This is of utmost importance as the findings must not and should not be viewed with suspicions, otherwise any follow-up actions in connection with the shooting down of MH17 will be and always be disputed.

Scenes from the crash site in eastern Ukraine

Scenes from the crash site in eastern Ukraine

But to ensure that justice is done especially to the victims and their families they left behind, if that is what needs to be done, then so be it. Malaysia does not need a ‘hijacking’ to add to the pain and sorrow from the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines MH17.

As its is now, the remains of some of the Malaysians on board that ill-fated flight will arrive in Malaysia on August 22, already declared a national day of mourning. As more and more remains gets identified and returned home, a closure of sorts will come for the families of MH17. Albeit slowly.

But that will not bring the curtain down for Malaysia just yet. The curtains will only be brought down once Malaysia Airlines MH370 has been recovered and the mystery surrounding its disappearance sorted out.

Til then, and only til then, will closure will finally come. Not only for the families but for all Malaysians and this land of ours we call Malaysia.

Property Bubble? No Kidding!

JB / Singapore map - note the two main entry pints into Malaysia ie the Second Link (bottom left, in red) and the Causeway (off centre) (source : iproperty.com.my)

JB / Singapore map – note the two main entry points into Malaysia ie the Second Link (bottom left, in red) and the Causeway (off centre) (source : iproperty.com.my)

In an article highlighted by the national mass media recently, there was a report stating that the Malaysian property market for the first quarter of 2014 had softened somewhat.

This softening of the market, which some property consultants termed as ‘a consolidation of the property market’, happens to be across the board with the residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, development and ‘others’ sub-segments all affected.

It was worth noting that the report was released by the National Property Information Centre (NAPIC), a government agency whose data can be as accurate as ‘one can get about the state of the sector, down to how many transactions being done’, to quote the article.

The article further quoted the president of the Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector as being not surprised by the findings of the report from NAPIC. He was further quoted as saying that the market is consolidating and that the market is not in a slump, which would otherwise be characterised by oversupply and declining prices.

Johor Bahru - a fast developing metropolis in the south of Peninsular Malaysia (source : iskandar malaysia)

Johor Bahru – a fast developing metropolis in the south of Peninsular Malaysia (source : iskandar malaysia)

As a member of the general public, the report from NAPIC could not have come at a better time. As many Johoreans will readily testify, the property market in Johor especially in Johor Bahru is a market that has gone off the rocks and is not a ‘Malaysian-friendly’ sector.

More and more properties especially condominiums are being built with prices exceeding the RM400,000 mark. This is way beyond what most Malaysians especially those who work and live in Johor Bahru can afford UNLESS you happen to be either a Malaysian working in Singapore and living in Johor Bahru OR a Singaporean who live in Johor Bahru and work in Singapore OR a Singaporean working and living in Singapore but dabble in the Malaysian property market, either for investment purposes or looking at making a quick buck.

It may sound harsh but should there be a property bubble developing in Johor Bahru and an impending burst of the bubble is imminent, it is doubtful that many Johoreans will feel sorry for the developers. Some may even rejoice when that happens.

It is common knowledge for Malaysians living in Johor Bahru that the property developers are not actually building homes for local ownership but rather for foreign ownership, foreign being defined as Singaporean. Trying to find a property that you can buy and call home may require lots of luck and even if you found one, it may be so out-of-town or so out-of-reach.

Johor Bahru at night (source : iskandar malaysia)

Johor Bahru at night (source : iskandar malaysia)

Some property developers unashamedly advertise their property development projects in Singapore Dollars and this when doing road shows in Johor Bahru. There is also another property project which places ‘a Certificate of Fitness’ or a ‘Certificate of Compliance’ from a Singapore agency in their show houses. Seriously folks?

Try to find a place to rent and it is most likely that you will have to dial a 02 or a 65 number. And even that the rental could be out of range for most folks. That is if the Singaporeans property owners are renting out the place.

Property agents in Singapore too are getting into the action. Go on a trip to Singapore and you will find property agents advertising properties not only in Singapore but also for locations in Malaysia further than Johor Bahru. You got admire these agents for expanding their market beyond their HDB flats. Reminds you of Phua Chu Kang’s punchline – Best in Singapore, best in JB and some say, best in Batam too. Couldn’t care much for Batam but JB?

Landed properties available. Looks nice until you see the price. (source : johor-bahru-real-estate.com)

Landed properties available. Looks nice until you see the price. (source : johor-bahru-real-estate.com)

The local banks too are not helping. It’s not like they are Singapore-owned banks. Go to a bank and tell them you are looking for financing to buy a property in Johor Bahru, they will ask for your place of work first. Depending on which side of the Causeway your place of work is, you will be either be given the runaround, with some openly discouraging or be welcomed with open arms.

This may sound petty to some, even unbelievable. But these are sentiments readily voiced by the locals in Johor Bahru and very soon, it will be heard elsewhere as well.

Hence, the proposal to amend the minimum price of properties that a non-Malaysian can buy in Johor, to RM1 million is very apt, providing the locals less competition from Singaporeans in their effort to buy property. It’s not the best solution but a solution for the time being nevertheless and will need reviewing on an annual basis.

In fact, the minimum price should be amended for the whole country, otherwise in looking at making a profit, property developers elsewhere would join their counterparts who are developing property in Johor especially in Johor Bahru, and develop property without a care in the world except for making obscene amounts of profit. In fact, it would not be surprising that envious looks are already been directed to the south of the Peninsular.

In other words, the authorities especially those WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO LOOK AFTER THE INTEREST OF MALAYSIANS IN HOUSING, will need to wake up from their slumber and get a grip on the situation, especially in Johor Bahru. It’s especially important as the locals are acutely aware of the situation, even if the authorities may not be.

Seriously, wake up please BEFORE it’s too late. PLEASE!