Thursday, February 5, 2009

Speech by Datuk Zaid Ibrahim

1. I want to thank ISEAS and in particular Ambassador Kesavapany for this honour. Ambassador Kesavapany told me that I would have 30 minutes or so to talk about Malaysia, and since it's a luncheon talk it would probably be light hearted and not too spirited. That will be difficult, like asking me to be on my best behaviour while in the company of Paris Hilton, but I will try.

2. Malaysia is a wonderful country and its people are among the most hospitable. If Australia is the Lucky Country, then Malaysia is the Blessed Country. Malaysia is also unique in another way. Not many countries have their Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism welcoming tourists. Many of you have visited the country and will no doubt remember the giant billboards along the highway with the imposing picture of a smiling Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism welcoming you to the country. Now of course, after March this year, you will see a new set of billboards replacing the expensive current ones. In March 2009, Malaysia will have a brand new Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and, in all likelihood, a new Minister for Tourism as well. Hopefully they will not spend too much on the billboards for they might have to change them again.

3. In Malaysia, General Elections had been considered a formality or a ritual – something we had to do every 5 years or so as a matter of habit although it had no real impact on the status quo. That all changed on 8 March 2008. The result of the 2008 General Elections held on that day sent shockwaves through the country. It is probably also true to say that it also surprised the Malaysian electorate which created the result. Ordinary Malaysians suddenly found that they were capable of doing something dramatic and historic. Malaysia will no longer be the same after March 8th The book published by ISEAS known as "Eclipsing May 13" is a good read about what happened. You will find a good analysis of the general election and the surrounding issues. What is clear is that Malaysia post-8 March 2008 is a different Malaysia.

4. But, really, should we have been so surprised? For years, our former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had told Malaysians that they could reach for the stars. You remember the catchphrase "Malaysia Boleh"? Long before US President-Elect Barrack Obama introduced the mantra "Yes We Can", Dr Mahathir was urging Malaysian to think "Malaysia Boleh" – "Malaysia Can".

5. Unfortunately for Malaysians, "Malaysia Boleh" has come to symbolize something very different. To Malaysians it is about the government or the bureaucracy doing things that could not and would not be done anywhere else. Faced with unjustifiable mega projects like the national car project, building the world's tallest building, creating the splendour of a new city in Putrajaya, hitching a ride into space on a Russian spacecraft that has been paid for with tax dollars or revenue that should have been used for more pressing matters like better equipped schools and hospitals, or an effective transportation system, and all the things that have come with them, what else could the average Malaysian do than shrug and say with resignation, "Malaysia Boleh.".

6. It seemed however, there was at least one thing that they could do.

"Malaysia Boleh" took on a different resonance during the last General Election. For the first time BN only got 49 % of the popular vote in Peninsula Malaysia. In terms of seats, BN only won 51% of those contested in Peninsular Malaysia. Only the seats from Sabah and Sarawak actually gave BN the solid majority it now enjoys. As for the Malays, a vote for the Opposition is no longer an act of treachery or betrayal to the Malay cause. PAS and Keadilan garnered more Malay votes than UMNO in Peninsular Malaysia. UMNO is no longer the dominant voice for the Malays..

7. Why the sudden change? In my view, it was not sudden at all. The results of the 2008 General Election were the culmination of the decline in support for the BN since the 1999 General Election. In that election UMNO lost a substantial portion of the Malay vote. It was this erosion of Malay electoral support for UMNO in 1999 that influenced the constituency re-delineation exercise in 2002. This move was to increase the number of Malay mixed constituencies and lessen the predominantly Malay seats. It was feared that PAS would be able to gain a stranglehold on such seats. This effort was to no avail in 2008 with PKR doing extremely well in the mixed Malay constituencies where Malay majority was between 50 to 65% and PAS doing well in the predominantly Malay constituencies. With DAP doing well in the predominantly Chinese majority seats, the writing was on the wall for the BN. The aberration was the result of the 2004 General Election. This aberration had nothing to do with BN. It had everything to do with the manifesto of change proposed by the then new Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Change however did not happen despite his best efforts. I will come to that later.

8. BN lost their 2/3 majority in Parliament in March this year though only by 10 seats It retained a majority and formed the Federal Government. Yet, shockingly, there was almost instant pressure on the Prime Minister to quit. Here you had an incumbent Prime Minister and leader of his party having led his coalition to an electoral victory being asked to leave. No other country except probably Thailand would purge a leader in that position. But then this is the same country which saw the leader of the Opposition being touted at the same time as the PM in waiting although he was still 32 seats short of a simple majority. Malaysia is truly a unique country.

9. So where did the results of the 2008 General Election put the country? In my view, the future looks good for Malaysia, current events notwithstanding. Of course we have a multitude of problems, but then which country is spared? What is important to note is that given our political history we are possibly in the best condition we could be to address and resolve those problems. As I stressed at the outset, Malaysia is no longer the country it was before 8 March 2008. For the first time we have a real prospect of a two party system in Parliament. Even if the Pakatan Rakyat opposition fails to form the federal government in the next election – in my view they have a 50% chance - we will have a stronger and more effective opposition. To me, this is the only safeguard against abuse of power, corruption and the preservation of the rule of Law, or at least whatever is left of it. Though those of you in Singapore may not need a strong opposition to ensure good governance and low corruption levels, the Malaysian experience requires the counterbalance a strong opposition allows for.

10. And what of the BN after the change in leadership in March?

Never mind March, what happens after Kuala Terengganu? BN will probably lose and if that happens, life will be tough for Dato Seri Najib. If BN wins then it's only temporary reprieve. In my view, the BN will appear to be stronger, thanks to the hype and spin by the mainstream media. With a new leader in Dato Seri Najib Tun Razak, UMNO and BN will rally behind him as a show of solidarity. However, when you dump and push out a sitting Prime Minister, especially someone as nice as Pak Lah, there are bound to be some of his supporters who will retaliate, and Najib cannot as such be assured of unanimous or cohesive support. After all, his popularity is low in the country. He will probably tighten the screw on the press and the dissenters within the party. He will be tempted to emulate Dr M's style of governance.. The Prime Minister in waiting will probably assemble a younger and stronger Cabinet. To do so, he will have to disband half of the present crop of Ministers, who have in any event certainly passed their shelf life. There are many young leaders in UMNO and the BN who are capable technocrats but, more importantly, they are not the typical UMNO idealogues and are more moderate in their positions. Khairy Jamaluddin, is capable and has enough gumption to effect changes the new Government may need to effect. He could be a star in the future, if he is not buried or sidelined in March. And another young UMNO leader is Dato Saifuddin Abdullah -the present Deputy Minister of Entrepreneur Development- these are bright BN second liners and will make good Ministers. On the other hand, if as is likely, Dato Seri Najib persists with the so-called "UMNO tradition" of giving Cabinet posts to those who hold senior party positions, then the BN Government will be more of the same. I also believe that the MCA and the other component parties will continue to play the role they have developed after their calamitous showing in the last General Elections. In the wake of their defeat, they became more assertive and less afraid to highlight the plight of the minorities. The dominance of one party to the exclusion of others is over; although UMNO extremists will try hard to hang on to the advantage they have become accustomed through bullying. All these elements should allow the BN administration a small window for a new lease of life if it plays its cards right.

11. Pak Lah the outgoing Prime Minister has been the butt of many jokes and criticisms from all quarters. It should not be overlooked that it was his manifesto of change that got the BN its best result ever in 2004. He had also begun to move towards the reforms he had promised, showing earnestness in making transparency, integrity and good governance a reality. Sadly, he was impeded by extremist elements in UMNO and he was too weak to take them on. If UMNO had supported him with earnest, the March 2008 swing might not have happened. It will be a fatal mistake for UMNO and the BN if Dato Seri Najib reversed or paid mere lip-service to these initiatives.

12. Integrity, good governance and judicial reform, in any meaningful sense, had been missing from our political lexicon for a long time. It took courage for Pak Lah to not only reintroduce them but to take steps towards giving them substance. The establishing of the Institute of Integrity, the Judicial Appointments Commission and the Anti Corruption Commission, all of which could have been better tailored to their purpose and declared aims, signalled the need for a massive change of direction – a paradigm shift, if you will – in political governance. Will these efforts herald a new era in anti-corruption efforts as well as allow for more meaningful efforts to restore judicial independence and competence? Only Dato' Seri Najib can answer this.

13. Though the Prime Minister will soon leave the scene he will leave behind an important legacy; a more open and critical society. He allowed for a greater level of public debate and, albeit somewhat haltingly, encouraged change towards more accountability in governance. Islam Hadhari was sorely misunderstood. A good idea, aimed at promoting moderation and progressiveness in Islamic discourse, it did not take off principally for the effort having been handicapped by its promotion having been undertaken by traditional stakeholders like JAKIM and other UMNO leaders. They were sadly more interested in pursuing political ambitions and aims than realizing the noble aspirations underlying the campaign. The League of Nations conceived by Harry Truman failed as an organization, but the idea was too good to die with the organization and today we have the United Nations. I hope the reforms Pak Lah gave life to will survive him.

14. But would things be any different under Pakatan Rakyat? The question is beginning to surface now that the euphoria of the 8 March 2008 election has waned. Anwar Ibrahim is a personality you are familiar with and is someone I admire immensely for his courage and tenacity. He has been the cement holding together the parties of the Pakatan Rakyat, with their diverse political philosophies and varying political agendas. I believe he'll be Prime Minister one day. Certainly, he will continue to be the main player in Malaysian politics for many years to come. As you no doubt know, he is once again facing a charge for sodomy. Some are of the view that he will be incarcerated again, either through the courts or by executive detention order. I am not so sure. The public demands by some Cabinet ministers for Anwar to volunteer a DNA sample at the time he was arrested and subsequently when charged suggests that there are doubts. Without a conviction, he cannot be incarcerated. A detention under the Internal Security Act by a new Najib government would invite serious repercussions both domestically and internationally at a time when economic and social conditions are in a mess. I would like to think that Dato Seri Najib appreciates that he has other options to win the support of the people in the next general election. Detaining Anwar under the ISA is an unnecessary risk and may well turn the tide completely against the BN. Nonetheless, I cannot say with certainty that Anwar will not be detained. Such is the state of play in Malaysian politics.

15. The Pakatan Rakyat, on its part, cannot assume that they are safely on the road to Putrajaya come 2012. The honeymoon is over for the five Pakatan Rakyat State governments of Kelantan, Perak, Kedah, Penang and Selangor. The PR must ensure that it retains these states. One would have thought that given the results in March, this would be a given. This may however prove not to be the case. It is said that on March 8th last year, Malaysians went in search a viable alternative. The PR must show that it is that alternative. Public infighting is not the way to go about that, yet this is what the PR has come to be identified with in recent days. The coalition needs to build on its common identity and provide for a common platform on major issues. Member parties must go beyond issues like the implementation of Islamic criminal law and concentrate on delivering on their collective message of social justice and compassionate and fair governance. In this, PAS, with its Islam-centric philosophy has to work harder to fall in line with PKR and DAP whose ideologies are more closely aligned. Whether the ulamaks of PAS are able to make this concession will be a test not just of their own maturity but also of the cohesiveness of the PR.

16. In short, the PR must show itself to be a real alternative to the BN way of doing things. To be able to retain the states currently ruled by them, PR must offer more effective policies and initiatives when compared to those of the BN. It will not be sufficient for them to depend on the personality of their leaders. That may have been enough the first time round, but the voters expect more and rightly so. But I must emphasize here that Malaysians are a patient lot. They have been patient with Barisan Nasional for so many years and I am sure they will be patient with Pakatan Rakyat as well. But Pakatan should never take the people for granted. In this, it would also be enormously helpful for Anwar Ibrahim to change his grandstanding ways. Proclaiming dates of anticipated takeovers without the ability to follow through merely distract and detract. Powerplays like that have undermined the PR in a way that has been wholly unnecessary. Anwar should instead focus on getting PR together as an entity with one coherent vision for the country. He has after all, the support of the rank and file of all the parties in Pakatan Rakyat, although not necessarily some of its leaders.

17. PAS' Islam-centric political posturing is particularly problematic, not because of the party's identification with Islam but rather it's posturing. PAS is a key member of the PR. For the coalition to stay viable coalition, PAS' approach to the subject of governance and public policy determination where Islam is a factor must show sophistication and restraint. This is particularly true of interfaith issues. Though PAS ideology has all the elements for an inclusive and pluralist society built on a foundation of justice and fairness, it has sadly become more known for its opposition to alcohol and concerts, and its fixation on implementing Islamic criminal law. Recalling that a multi-racial voter base voted PAS in last March on the back of a manifesto that centered on shaping Malaysia into a welfare state, PAS' energy would be better spent on fleshing out the economic policy underlying its concept of a welfare state to show that its vision is achievable. Additionally, to prove itself a viable Islamic alternative to UMNO, PAS has to distance itself from the UMNO-style of unilateral, ultra-legalistic, enforcement-minded approach to Islam. PAS must further accept that it has to consult not only its partners but also a broader segment of the public including progressive Islamic thinkers before making policy declarations.

18. The reality is that non-Muslims are also affected by declarations on so-called Islamic matters, particularly where these coincide with matters in the public sphere. As such, a culture of non-discrimination and consultation must be nurtured for the good of the country. As I have alluded to, the compassionate side of Islam can be PAS' strong point. If it is able to harness the various dimension of this aspect and project them more inclusively, for example by championing the rights of stateless children with no papers and schools to attend, the issue of trafficking of women, the issue of refugees who have settled here for all intents and purposes, PAS will be viewed as a party for all Malaysians, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. To showcase its vision of an inclusive Islam, PAS could take the lead in forging solutions for those problematic so-called conflicts issues. The reality is that there will be persons who converted to Islam for marriage and whose marriages have broken down or ended by reason of death or divorce. Some of them will want to find comfort in their original faiths. Leaving them unaided by hiding behind jurisdictional issues, as we have seen, or by proclaiming the beauty of Islam does not address the situation and the pain of those concerned. Thus far, BN states have been unwilling to offer solutions. PAS could lead the PR in navigating forward to resolution. This, I feel, speaks more for PAS' ideals than mere pronouncements of what is sinful and what is not. In doing this, they would have offered the rakyat the security they crave. I also believe they would have done more to restore the dignity of Islam than the Islamization campaigns of UMNO have done much to undermine.

19. Inter-racial cooperation in Malaysian politics has a short history.

We saw it in the years from 1946 as we came together in the quest for independence. Since the 80's, Government policies appear to have increasingly polarized Malaysian society. Only in the last 5 years, have we again witnessed real camaraderie and solidarity, principally due to the efforts of NGOs, and, more recently, the PR. The last general election bore witness to a new dynamic. The rakyat came together, the young and old and the person on the street, to work with and for one another regardless of race and affiliation. They had a common cause; the betterment of Malaysia. The majority of Malaysians who have been told repeatedly that they are of different races, that they have different rights and privileges, and to continue to blindly trust government decisions have now said enough! They have now found comfort and unity amongst themselves; they have found a rejuvenating sense of a new identity as one people. This is the new Malaysia.

20. Malaysia is like many other countries where the young will ultimately determine the nature and course of politics. The people have shown their abhorrence for greed and abuse of power. The people have shown that they want to be together as one community. They have shown that they prefer pragmatic discourse. Half of Malaysia's population is below 35. These youngsters are eager for change, for a politics of idealism and honour. They want public officials to be more accountable, or at least, for a political process that is less corrupt and dirty. They want their leaders to be in tune with their needs, they demand security, remedies to their problems and social justice. Though still relevant, ethnicity is no longer a critical factor. The young are less susceptible to the instigation of racial hatred and prejudice. They want change. This is something that both sides of the divide must take note of. At the next general election, there will be another 4 million young voters who will determine the titanic struggle.

21. Why am I so positive about Malaysia whilst continuously pointing to the deterioration in ethnic relations, and religious conflicts? Because the majority of Malaysian are sensible people. Ordinary people have more sense than their leaders sometimes. They know the value of cooperation, mutual respect and harmony. I believe the people have spoken out loudly and clearly. The future direction of the country is no longer going to be solely in the hands of the political masters. The people want to be involved. They have had enough of scandals, abuse of power, and poor administration. It is not true that they voted for the Opposition just out of frustration or in protest as some pro-BN analysts have said. The people voted for the Opposition as a manifestation of their desire for a better country; for themselves, their families, their children. The non-Malays ask that they be accorded the respect and recognition they deserve as equals. They believe, rightly so, that their future is inextricably linked with that of the Bumiputras. The Malays on their part have responded positively to the idea of a truly unified Malaysia. Despite UMNO fear-mongering about Malay rights being threatened by support for the Oppposition, the Keadilan and PAS share of Malay votes on the Peninsula exceeded that of UMNO. While at one time a Malay vote was an UMNO vote, today the Malays no longer see themselves as beholden to UMNO.

22. Sometimes I am asked what I intend to do next. I have only a limited political ambition; to see Malaysia prosper peacefully in a way that will benefit all including the Bumiputras who must have their fair share of the fruits of that prosperity; to see that the rights and the dignity of all are respected and protected; to see that the yearnings of the non-Malays to feel a sense of belonging and of being wanted as Malaysians in their own country is fully realized; to see that Compassion, which is the underlying teaching of my religion, becomes the central consideration in the formulating of public policies. Finally, as a lawyer, I want to see justice and the rule of law reestablished and flourishing. These are simple ambitions, I think. Given the results of the 8 March 2008 election, there is some hope that they will be fulfilled in my lifetime. The rakyat has shown that it wants democracy and all that it portends.

23. In the meantime I hope to do my part towards achieving this goal with a foundation I have set up called MyFuture Foundation. It is a vehicle that I hope will assist the young to articulate their Malaysian-ness through their support of the various community oriented projects that the foundation aims to undertake for the realization of a Bangsa Malaysia. It is a vehicle that will allow the people to express their rejection of narrow racist politics, and to show that the various races want to, and can be together as one people.

24. Countries in South East Asia have gone through tumultuous change over the years, each having to endure different sets of challenges. We each have our own stories. I have tried in the time made available to me to tell you ours in Malaysia. Thank you.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Thousands Light of Kek Lok Si Temple Penang

We have attractive places for tourist, but previous government does not know how to appreciate them, hope we can attract more tourists to Penang in next 5 years.

Song for Recession

You'd better watch out
You'd better not cry

You'd better keep cash

I'm telling you why:

Recession is coming to town.

It's hitting you once,

It's hitting you twice

It doesn't care if you've been careful and wise

Recession is coming to town

It's worthless if you've got shares

It's worthless if you've got bonds

It's safe when you've got cash in hand

So keep cash for goodness sake, HEY

You'd better watch out

You'd better not cry

You'd better keep cash

I'm telling you why:

Recession is coming to town!

Finance products are confusing

Finance products are so vague

The banks make you bear the cost of risk

So keep out for goodness sake, OH

You'd better watch out

You'd better not cry

You'd better keep cash
I'm telling you why:

Recession is coming to town.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Remember during Budget 2008 announcement last yr, our Finance Minister (cum PM) announced that in order to assist KWSP members to reduce the burden in housing load repayment, KWSP will allow monthly withdrawal from members' A/C II for the purpose?

Sounds like a nice goodies!

When you apply for the monthly withdrawal, you only need to provide KWSP yr housing loan & instalment details from yr bank and the bank a/c # you like KWSP to bank the monthly withdrawal into it. KWSP will approve yr application based on the available amt in yr A/C II
> and compute the withdrawal period by dividing the approved amt with the monthly instalment amt. Application process takes about a month and you will receive the monthly payout promptly into yr bank a/c!

Well everything appear to be nice and good. It was indeed a noble plan until you take to close look at yr KWSP Statement! The withdrawal plan is actually a SCAM! This is how the KWSP SCAM works.......

Assuming you have RM100,000 in yr A/C II and yr housing loan's monthly instalment is RM2000/mth.
KWSP will approve yr application of withdrawal from yr A/C II of RM100,000 and pay you M2000/mth for the next 50mths. Everything appears to be in order BUT.......

What KWSP didn't highlight to you is that when the application was approved, the TOTAL AMT (RM100,000) is removed from yr A/C II! It appears to be transfered to an unknown a/c to effect the monthly payment from therein.

The impact to the member are as follows :-

1. You just lost RM100,000 from yr A/C II. Assuming the KWSP Dividend is 5%, you will lose >RM4,000 in dividend during the 1st year. Based on the above example you will will lose >RM10,000 over the 50 mths period!

2. There is no statement to account for the amt approved vs amt paid, hence you would need to keep the monthly payment voucher to reconcile against the approved amt over the 50mths period to ensure there is no missing amt!

Assuming there are 100,000 members who innocently fell prey to this SCAM, based on the above example, KWSP would have cheated the members of 100,000 X RM10,000 = RM1,000,000,000 (that's RM1 BILLION) over the period!

Furthermore, if you discovered this SCAM early and intend to stop the plan, KWSP would not allow any cancellation of the plan until at least 1 year. That would mean, once the application is approved, based on the above example, you would have lost >RM4,000.

100,000 members would have lost 100,000 X RM4,000 = RM400,000,000 (RM400 MILLION) in One Year!!!

If you're a victim of this KWSP SCAM, would suggest you call yr MP to raise hell in Parliament!
For others who have not fallen into this SCAM, pls continue to watch out and alert yr family & friends about this.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Article by Dr Mohamed Rafick Khan bin Abdul Rahman

I have been following the story of the construction of a centralized and modern pig farm in Kampung Tumbuk in Kuala Langat and how the issue of religious sensitivity and racial cards has been played by the Opposition (i.e. The BN people) in Selangor.
The issue also appears to have been made worst by the lopsided reporting by the Malay newspaper which obviously is trying to incite racial sentiments. Please allow me to share my views as a Muslim on the matter. The Babi and the narrow minded politicians who called themselves Muslims from an Islamic perspective. In Islam, the eating of swine is forbidden.
> This is clearly demonstrated in many verses of the Quran. Among others this includes: [1] 5:3, 6:145, 16:114-115; [2] 2:168-169, 3:93-94, 6:119, 10:59; [3]0-91.
My research has failed to find any evidence that suggest that the religion do not allow muslims to be standing next to or to look at or to smell a pig. Maybe some people in authority can highlight further on this issue.

First of all, I am appalled at the narrow minded politicians who made the issue of building a centralized and modern pig farming an issue. It is beyond doubt that the real issue here is economy, environmental pollution and improving quality of life in the surrounding community. The opposition (BN) are making a mockery of this just because of political mileage. I feel when something good is being done; it should be promoted by all parties.

I have travelled to St Louis , USA where it is also known as pork capital of the world. I have visited and stood 3 feet away from a pig pen. There was no smell. It was so damn clean. It is even cleaner than public toilets in Malaysia . How many of these politicians have visited such a farm and how many are involved in goat farming in Malaysia ? While goat is Halal in Malaysia , please enter many farms there is in Malaysia and you will see how dirty it is. Islam only prohibits the eating of pork. There is no prohibition of looking at it or standing next to one. In fact I have yet to find anywhere in the Quran that prevents Muslims from rearing it.

During my 15 months tour of duty with UN in Cambodia , many Malay Champa who are strong Muslims rear pigs under their house for economic reason even though they don't eat them. From an economic perspective it is better to rear pigs than cows or goat. It is simply more profitable. The pregnancy duration is about 112-115 days compared to goat which is about 150 days or a cow 290 days.

At the end of each pregnancy the pig produces between 12- 15 piglets, the goat about 1-2 kids and the cow 1 calf. From an environmental perspective, it is definitely better to have a central farm where small farmers join hands and run one big and clean farm. This way the cleanliness of our water way will be maintained. Waste management will become the epicentre of the operation. It is more economical to run one big farm than many small farms that are polluting.Overall it is a win win situation for everyone.

It is insulting the way some politicians look at the issue. I believe from an Islamic perspective it is quite clear. It is the narrow minded politicians that played up the issue that makes it into a Muslim and non-Muslim issue and trying to create a bigger racial divide among Malaysians. Sometimes I wonder, which has the lower image, the babi or these politicians. For that aspect, I respect the position taken by PAS on this matter. It has shown that it has handled the issues properly. I ask all level minded Malaysian and to re look at the 'Babi' issue again. Study the real issue properly and make a proper judgment. Overall it will benefit Malaysians from the economic, environmental and quality of life perspective.

Dr Mohamed Rafick Khan bin Abdul Rahman

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

North-South Expressway (Dangerous Stretch)

Dear TV3 and The Star,

I am a frequent user of our North-South Expressway and I have this IMPORTANT
experience to highlight and share:-

I was driving back to Penang yesterday afternoon (24 June 08) when I saw the unfortunate accident in the opposite direction involving the passenger bus that skidded and overturned at Tanjung Malim. I didn't know that the skidded bus was from hometown Penang untill I watched TV3 news later in the evening and was shocked to learn that the accident took two lives.

Now, this is what I need to share:-

I am a building contractor with over twenty years of experience and I have been driving my 5 series BMW (latest generation and a dammed solid road holding car) each time I travelled to KL. Lately, the new extended 3 lanes highway had been opened up for use and since then, I have also been using it quite oftenly.

HOWEVER, when I used it each time it is WET, I can really 'feel' that the new road surface is extremely SLIPPERY! To share with some of you, my car comes with a built-in traction control mechanism (skidding prevention mechanism) and you can feel it each time it is activated. Previously, I don't come across this kind of slippery feel except when I drive over a
paddle of water at certain speed.

From my observation as a building contractor, the 'wearing course' of the new road surface could be TOO FINE OR TOO SMOOTH and TOTALLY UNSUITABLE for highway use!
The wearing course (top premix layer) mix design for highways should be of minimum 20mm coarse aggregate mix that will give us the required bond between the surface and our tyres. Fine wearing course (14mm coarse aggregate size and below) is only suitable for normal road. (A proper test need to be carried out to determine the mix design of the wearing course).

Since the opening of the three lanes highway, I had seen cars skidding in front me or in the opposite direction and approximately 2 weeks ago, one of my friends who is also a frequent user of our NSE, came to share with me about his slippery feeling as well as the many skidded cars he had seen lately.

I am highlighting this to TV3 and The Star with the hope that a thorough investigation could be carried out immediately to find out how or what causes the bus to skid. A proper and independent test need to be carried out urgently to determine the design mix of the wearing course. THIS CAN SAVE LIVES.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

NewType of Crime in KL - KLIA


Pass it on..... let more people be aware of such things around them.

A few days ago a new type of crime has surfaced in town.

It goes something like this:- Somebody slips a handphone into your

sometimes it could be just a wallet with an identity card and a few
ringgits. A few minutes later, the 'owner' comes up and confronts you,
the 'thief '. He makes a big commotion that you stole his stuff. You,
caught unaware, are then pulled aside by the 'owner' for a settlement
you are intimidated and threatened that if you do not pay up the police
will be brought in. If you pay up, this 'owner' lets you go. If
not, the police are brought in.

Another strange thing is that there always seems to be a 'witness' to
your 'theft'. I am told this often happens to foreigners at the
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) or even at LRT trains. Given
you're 'guilty until proven innocent' as far as the Malaysian
police are concerned, I understand some poor people are in jail for

At the KLIA, the 'owner' throws his handphone and wallet with the few
ringgit notes into the luggage trolley of a just arrived passenger.
The drama unfolds a few minutes later. The real culprit has easily
convinced our Malaysian police to arrest the real victim (if he has
not paid up the 'settlement' demand). This is a very serious matter.
is another form of extortionists operating in broad daylight.
They are disgusting criminals who will do anything to rob and steal. The
sickening part of the whole scenario is that unless you pay the
"quoted settlement" money, they will put you in real trouble by calling
police. The real culprit gets back his handphone and wallet
but the real victim (i.e. could be any one of us) is thrown into the
police lock up and charged in court. So do be very careful,
otherwise you may end up as a "thief" as you have no way to prove your

Geh Cheng Lok & Co,Advocates & Solicitors,
No.20, King Street (Top Floor),10200 Penang , Malaysia.Tel. No:
604-2617464 Fax. No: 604-2611840