Archive for October, 2011

To All my Hindu readers for the undivided support and the visit to my blog, I and my family wish you all Happy and Prosperous Deepavali 2011.

Memories of celebrating Deepavali with my close friends and family in Penang are some of my fondest childhood memories. Now, seeing how Deepavali has truly become a Malaysian celebrated tradition certainly warms my heart. I wish everyone again a joyous Deepavali celebration and a healthy year ahead that allows us to cast off all negative feelings and carry on with a positive spirit to spread our collective lights in service to our country Malaysia.

This day marks the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil.

Happy Deepavali again!

The stunning videos of the brutal killing of the former Libyan leader, Muammar Gadhafi is shocking. The bloody images have gone viral on the Internet. While I write this piece, Gadhafi’s lifeless body, still lies in a refrigerated former supermarket in Misurata. They have not given him a decent Muslim burial in accordance with Islamic principles, and this is bad.

Despite Gadhafi’s s authoritarian if not egocentric ways, the way they executed him is really sickening, he was executed in cold blood, it is summary execution. He should have been given a fair trial and he deserved it as a human.  Some video footage shows him asking for mercy from his captors. Come on, he is human, we all know he has been cruel in the past but why to go down to such low level ? I too never liked Gadhafi but I believe in democracy, rule of law and justice, and for me, even Gadhafi deserved a fair trial.

The circumstances of  Gadhafi’s death has raised serious questions about the commitment of America, NATO, National Transitional Council (NTC not THC) and the Rebel forces, to democracy and human rights. The World must call for an investigation. It is very disturbing. It is a fundamental principle of international law that people accused of serious crimes should if possible be tried.  As far as I know summary executions is illegal. It is different if someone is killed in combat.

For me, Libya has failed its first democratic test, with vengeance and bloodlust triumphing over due process, the rule of law, and justice. NATO is deeply complicit in this. The role of western powers, especially the United Kingdom, France, and the United States is a sorry saga of violent regime.

Anyway I hope if the NTC genuinely wants to set Libya on the right path, it would do well to begin by conducting an honest and impartial investigation into Gadhafi’s killing.

I wonder, does the West want democracy in Libya or just a friendly regime that will give it access to Libya’s oil? Or is it because of United States huge debts it hatched a conspiracy to own the oil reserves in Libya? Makes me think!

Anyway, Muammar Gadhafi will certainly not be mourned as a great leader of his people. But don’t forget that his rule did bring about positive changes for Libya, notably in health, education, and infrastructure development. In contrast to other Arab states, it also gave Libyans a consciousness about their oil wealth as a national resource.

It is so disappointing that Malaysia expressed no concern at Gadhafi’s violent end. Najib Tun Razak, why so quite about this, surely you could have done better!

Bloomberg has hailed Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng as embodying the contrast between Penang’s business transparency and the four-decade old policies of the ruling party (Barisan Nasional) that favour Malays.

Lim Guan Eng turned Malaysia’s second-smallest state into the nation’s biggest economic success after he bumped into two National Instruments Corp. (NATI) executives at the local airport in 2008.

Elected in March that year as Penang’s first chief minister from an opposition party in 36 years, Lim was struggling with the prospect of federal funding cuts. He convinced the managers to set up a research and production center in the state, and within two years the former British trading post was Malaysia’s top destination for foreign manufacturing investment.

“The deal was struck very quickly,” said Eugene Cheong, a director at the local unit of the Austin, Texas-based maker of industrial testing and automation equipment.

See rest of the story here

Consider the issue that now captures financial market attention: public debt. The experience in Greece, Spain, Portugal and elsewhere suggests that finance capital is increasingly “intolerant” of what is perceived as excessive public debt. Governments seem increasingly incapable of meeting their debt service commitments. Sovereign default threatens investor solvency. We see this now triggering protest and social disruption all around the world, from Wall Street in New York to Australia and now has spread even to Tokyo. It is a crisis. The young are getting desperate because of the contraction of employment and incomes.

Malaysia also seems to have lost its bearings.

Look at the analysis above, the analysis suggests that Malaysia’s gross public debt to GDP ratio increased from 42.7 per cent to 55.1 per cent between 2007 and 2011,  it is among the highest in the region. Malaysia’s 55.1 per cent level compares with Pakistan’s 54.1, Philippines’ 47, Thailand’s 43.7, Indonesia’s 25.4 and China’s 16.5. This is shocking as we have more debts than Indonesia and even Philippines.

Our government is excessively indebted, and we are in the firing line. Really!

Remember, Malaysia has never been an economic wizard. Never in our history since 1963, we find, any original thinker on economy and hence we lack an economic model which we may call as our own. We never cared to evolve an economic model which cared for the needs of our country and sought to utilize our own resources in our way according to our own needs and aspirations, Najib calls it “MY WAY”, my foot lah! We borrow ideas – economic and political – from others and when the idea suppliers fail, we rue and indulge in illusions as Najib Tun Razak and his team are doing today. From our experience we know that whenever our Prime Minister – Najib Tun Razak – tell us not to worry , they mean nothing and we have to actually start to worry. The Rakyat are the real victims. Prices are skyrocketing from “roti chanai” to “teh tarik” to “kon lo mein” and even “nasi lemak”, all are going up up up. We cannot talk of Rakyat because they never had any significance for our Malaysian shining politicians. They are of no consequence and, hence, can not be counted or considered, and this is how the masses feel.

At the rate we are going we are surely heading towards an economic collapse.

In Bank Negara Malaysia’s latest report issued on Oct 14, our country’s national debt currently stood at RM437 billion (as of June 30, 2011), with domestic debt amounting to RM421 billion and foreign debt at RM16 billion.

Malaysia is in a very very vulnerable position. Many economists say that 90% of GDP Debt is point of no return. Malaysia’s exports primarily petroleum and oil palm are heavily dependent on India and China for its trading. Malaysia must resolve its debt problems and sober up, it has to  cut its spending, increase taxes and prepare for more than a lost decade or it can just print money. Either case Malaysia will either face severe deflation, real estate collapses, stock market collapses, low demand leading to joblessness and more Bersih style protest given the youth population of the country. 75% debt is really intolerable for any developing economy. What is happening is in the name of social schemes the government is literally putting the country in debt and eating the money through corruption.

My economist friend from University Malaya tells me Malaysia has insufficient funds to finance the 2011 expenditure, there is RM46 billion deficit and this will be funded by further debts. Truly, it frightens me!

Location continues to be the key factors for real estate developers. And higher focus, within the real estate parameters, has been provided to occupiers demand followed by supply and indicator fluctuation.

Sabah’s real estate market has responded to the improved sentiments now being seen across the rest of the country. Construction activity is evident largely in residential as well as commercial projects including condominiums, shopping malls and multiplexes, since this is currently the primary growth sector on the state property front. Pragmatically, Sabah’s residential and commercial real estate segment has pulled itself rather convincingly out of stagnation mode.

Despite knowing the fact that the support infrastructure is a huge challenge in most towns and even the city of Kota Kinabalu, the domestic as well as national developers have not been deterred in decking the state’s continuous growing sense of modernity.

And the property rates for new schemes at its various potential districts have spiked by significant figures over the last few years. Residential projects are coming up fairly rapidly in Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Tawau, Lahad Datu, etc with a fair amount of residential construction including other adjacent areas of Labuan around Kuala Penyu. With special real estate and education hub initiatives for the masses especially in Sandakan, the Sandakan Education Hub – a 1,200 acres  site to be developed as an educational hub for five colleges that have expressed interest to establish campuses in Sandakan, and the Sandakan Harbour Square which consists of 129 unit of shopoffices, a new central market, a Town Square, a shopping centre, hotels and a convention centre, the state is destined to get a face lift. Currently, Sabah is witnessing a huge revamping exercise.

According to a report compiled by the Syarikat Perumahan Negara Berhad (SPNB), which has data on all states, Sabah recorded one of the highest growth of  8 per cent during 2009-10. Lauding the prodigious achievement of the state, George Khoo, CEO of Properties Malaysia said, Sabah is the new miracle economy of the country.

To support and sustain the real estate growth trend in Sabah, the state government seeks Federal Governments immediate support in special package for infrastructure development in all the districts in Sabah.

Disseminating the news on current scenario of real estate, Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman said, ” There has been a boom in the real estate in Sabah. I am often told that the cost of a high-end condominium unit in Sabah at present is higher than many developed cities in the country. This has happened in spite of the economic slowdown which had depreciated property prices elsewhere. The property prices had remained stagnant in Sabah for many years preceding my tenure.”

The Musa Aman regime has shown quick spike in state’s overall growth. Even, the improved law and order situation has attracted builders and investors to invest in the state contributing to its economic growth.

Another significant move taken by Musa Aman’s government is the halting of the proposed seafront development projects encompassing some 400 acres of seafront from Tanjung Aru to all the way to Likas signed away by Former Chief Minister Yong Teck Lee to some private companies one of which is connected to Sarawakian Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing who is also involved with the controversial “The Port Klang Free Trade Zone“. To save the waterfront and the Likas Bay, Musa Aman had to stop the project and the state government was bought to court and RM1.6 billion was claimed by “The Developer”, luckily the government won the case. The waterfront project in fact threatened to turn the waterfront and the Likas bay into a vast tower-block hotel and housing estate. The “Developer” hoped to build a sprawling series of high-rise blocks,  including multistory colossus. With the consequent seafront population explosion, the old concrete ramps linking the development to the seafront would be gridlocked and medical, emergency, bus and education services overwhelmed. There would be pile-driving seven days a week for years and a decade of chaos with convoys of slow lorries trundling along Kota Kinabalu seafront roads with thousands of tons of building materials. The scheme would not just be a disaster for Kota Kinabalu residents but it would ruin the city’s seafront skyline, block sea views, cause road congestion and parking chaos way beyond the waterfront area, set an appalling precedent for over-development and sound the death knell for Sabah as a peaceful leisure venue. Musa Aman’s aim is to accelerate development and undertake urban development in a way that is kind to both people and the environment and that’s why he had to put a stop to this project, he has sent a strong message in so doing.

Then there is another large industrial project, near Sipitang, US$ 1.5 billion Sabah Ammonium-Urea plant project also about to take off shortly by the Sabah government and Petronas. This undertaking also will do much to open Sipitang’s real estate growth into a new direction.

Now, the developers have started tapping Sabah’s fragmented locations after seeing a paradigm shift in affluent property buyers. They, with a serious need to spread their wings over wider geographies, now see no further mileage in delaying their move to untapped locations  where the favourable penetration rate adds extra perk to develop the real estate. And going 10 years down the line, the state will witness a consolidated position in the real estate market as developers are stretching their capacities to the maximum in order to meet the growing market demand.

Then the recent RAM Ratings has reaffirmed the AAA rating of the Sabah State Government’s RM544 million Bonds (2009/2014) and this is great news. RAM Ratings said the long-term rating has a stable outlook for Sabah and it also reflects healthy fiscal position.

Sabah recorded a fiscal surplus of RM730.3 million on the back of RM4.2 billion of revenue and this announcement further accelerates the growth curve.

Pancreatic cancer, complications from which claimed the life of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, is one of the fastest spreading cancers, experts say.

This form of cancer is an aggressive, fast growing type of the disease which often takes its victims within five years after diagnosis.

Tumours are usually located on the head of the pancreas — an organ that helps break down food so it can be absorbed into the body — where they can block the bile duct and cause jaundice.

Professor Minoti Apte, from the University of New South Wales School of Medical Sciences in Australia, said pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the western world.

“It’s particularly devastating because it’s got a dismal prognosis with a five-year survival rate of less than five per cent in a lot of cases,” Apte, the Indian-origin doctor, said.

“There’s many reasons, but one of the major reasons is that it’s often diagnosed late. It can be associated with vague symptoms, so it’s often diagnosed late and by the time it is diagnosed it has often metastasised or spread to other organs,” Dr. Apte was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.

Each year, about 44,000 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S., and 37,000 people die of the disease, the Time magazine reported.

The pancreas contains two types of glands: exocrine glands that produce enzymes that break down fats and proteins, and endocrine glands that make hormones like insulin that regulate sugar in the blood.

Jobs, 56, died of tumours originating in the endocrine glands, which are among the rarer forms of pancreatic cancer.

In 2004, Jobs underwent surgery to remove the cancer from his pancreas. In 2009, after taking another leave of absence from Apple, Jobs had a liver transplant in an effort to retain as much of his organ function as possible after his cancer had spread beyond the pancreas.

According to experts, Jobs’ was an uphill medical battle.

“He not only had cancer, he was battling the immune suppression after the liver transplant,” Dr Timothy Donahue of the UCLA Center for Pancreatic Disease in Los Angeles, who had not treated Jobs, told

He noted that most patients who receive liver transplants survive about two years after the surgery.

The Sabah outcome of the March 2008 Elections has confirmed the pre-poll conventional wisdom about Musa Aman’s victory based on his successes on the development and law-and-order fronts. But what makes the chief minister stand out from his other equally successful political colleagues is the inclusive nature of his politics.

As a result, although the others have also led Barisan National to comfortable victories in their states, it is only Musa Aman who won 59 seats out of the 60 state seats contested which is nearly 98.34% success. While Abdul Taib Mahmud of Sarawak carries the millstone of nepotism, cronyism and corruption round his neck, Ali Rustam the other chief minister of little Malacca is seen as being too obsessed with his own Malay “supremacist” and is seemingly still tainted when he was accused of condoning ‘money politics’ whereby he allowed his agent to distribute money to Umno delegates to vote for him in the UMNO elections for the deputy president’s post and was barred from contesting in the Umno elections, and the other chief minister Koh Tsu Koon of Penang lost his own seat and lost the state to Pakatan Rakyat headed by DAP. In contrast, the new star of Sabah has emerged with a remarkably clean record on all these counts.

The entire focus of Musa Aman’s attention was on the states economy, building roads, bridges, deporting and jailing illegals and arresting and charging anti-social elements and encouraging the education of native girls and native boys by providing them with school uniforms, shoes, and computers and empowering women- the six areas (out of many) which earlier chief ministers had neglected. Not surprisingly, there has been a massive response to his appeal to the voters to support the “doer”.

The outcome, therefore, marks the beginning of a new phase in Sabah politics, where the long-prevailing excessive emphasis on race/religion imported from Kuala Lumpur has been diluted – at least partly. True, Musa Aman also played the native card by focusing on the extreme poor natives.

Aware that he might not be able to make much inroads into the main base comprising KDMs, who make up about 25 per cent of the population, Musa Aman a half-Dusun turned to Pairin the “Huguan Siou” of the KDMs’ and so on.

Notwithstanding this partisan manipulation of natives, there is little doubt that it is still the development projects, political stability and the improvement in law and order which are primarily responsible for Musa Aman’s success.

What may have also helped him is his modesty. Take the case of the Batu Sapi Parliamentary elections, it is not impossible that he consciously eschewed Yong Teck Lee’s flamboyance, realising that such bluff and bluster can have a negative impact in the absence of achievement. He also remained aloof from the controversial postures of the kind which the president of SAPP, Yong Teck Lee, took on issues such as the “Sabah for Sabahan” an idea probably borrowed from my good friend Dr Jeffery Kitingan.

It is as the “doer”, who wants to restore Sabah’s reputation as one of the best-run states, that Musa Aman evidently wants to be remembered. The voters had given a thumbs-up to his ambition.

Sabah government has been identified to be the best example of good governance and the Chief Minister of the state, Musa Aman as being the “key driver” of economic growth and development within the state. In other words, Musa Aman has been appreciated for being an effective chief minister.

Perhaps Malaysia’s best example of effective governance and impressive development is found in Sabah, where Musa Aman has streamlined economic processes, removing red tape and curtailing corruption in ways that have made the state a key driver of national economic growth.

Musa Aman has overseen heavy investment in modern roads, bridges and power infrastructure and jobs for Sabahans. He has even reiterated his call repeatedly to the national oil company Petronas to provide adequate opportunities to eligible Sabahans to participate directly in the oil and gas industry. He is monitoring and cooperating with Petronas on how to distribute projects from the oil company to local contractors in Sabah and he is serious to ensure Sabahans would not be merely bystanders to the development that is taking place in the state. Not many chief ministers in the past while in position dare to sound the national oil company Petronas, even though Petronas takes much more than give back to the state and its people.

Despite Sabah being branded the poorest state in Malaysia, Musa Aman had performed well as chief minister by improving the overall economic conditions with an annual growth of more than 8 per cent in recent years.

Used to adore George Harrison when I was a kid. I remembered word to word the song ” while my guitar gently weeps”, even now its so fresh in my mind. For years, George Harrison’s music had some sort of connection with me.I found comfort in them and a hope and a special experience listening to his music. I was always fascinated by George Harrison, I don’t know why.

I’m so excited now there is a much-anticipated film on George Harrison coming soon. Every time I see or hear anything to do with George Harrison it brings back memories than you would believe.

This film a documentary, “George Harrison: Living in the Material World”, tracing the life and work of George Harrison who died in 2001 at the age of 58, is to be released in British cinemas only for one night today, but will be telecast by the BBC next month. Can’t wait to see this.

For your information, Harrison, who was drawn to Indian culture in the 1960s in pursuit of spiritualism, once said: “We had lots of material things at quite an early age and we learned that wasn’t it, we still lacked something.”

I remembered Eric Clapton once described George Harrison as someone special who created “something unique”.

Here is “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. Enjoy….

Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman has got another feather in his cap from none other than Rosmah Mansor the Prime Minister’s wife, the latter obviously impressed by the efforts towards empowering women and the overall development of the state under the stewardship of Musa Aman.

Ever since coming to power in march, 2003, the quiet and efficient Chief Minister of Sabah has gone about doing his job earning both admiration and respect from even his opposition. Under him Sabah has changed for the better. The image of Sabah as a land of illegals, crime, smuggling, corruption, backwardness and poverty is now a thing of the past. Today there are visible signs of peace and development. This is indeed refreshing. Today Sabah would undoubtedly be the most improved State in the country. It’s indeed a great leap forward and due credit to the leadership of Musa Aman.

When people talk about the new Sabah, they usually refer to the transformation — the State was in complete chaos when Musa Aman first assumed office in 2003. Sabah was more popular for its rampant kidnapping in the east-coast of Sabah, the disorder, illegals and poverty. Things have changed and there is hope and optimism among the people. Not only within but the image of Sabah as perceived by the outsider is positive. This is very important for the future prospect of the State. With order, political stability and strong progressive leadership, investors will have confidence to enter Sabah and this will do a world of good to the local economy.

The other aspect about the leadership quality of Musa Aman, which merits attention and applause, is the reformist zeal that he has demonstrated during his tenure as Chief Minister. This is rare for a politician because the more power you get to wield, the more entrenched your vested interest becomes. In the case of Musa Aman, he has challenged the status-quo on many occasions.

Take the case of the RM1.3 billion coal power plant project in Silam, where Musa Aman had scrapped it. Musa Aman said the decision by the state Cabinet to cancel the project was made for health and environmental reasons. Actually the proposed site was close to conservation areas like Darvel Bay Malian Basin, Danum Valley and Ulu Segama which have highly sensitive ecosystems, much of which are still in pristine condition. Darvel Bay itself has a highly diverse marine life and has been called the “Cradle of Coral Evolution” by the scientific community and the location is the genesis of coral reefs running through the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. See, Musa was concern and he specifically said that he cannot trade off the environment for progress and deprive our future generation of Sabah’s natural wonders.

In a unique approach, the failed Silam Power Plant will be replaced by a more Eco-friendly power plant elsewhere. Under the plan, Tenaga Nasional and Petronas was asked to work out a 300 megawatt power plant using gas or fuel probably from Sarawak.

Musa Aman is not your usual run in the mill politician who clings on to power. He has an agenda and vision for the peaceful development of Sabah and its people. And he wants to deliver this vision through real performance and not just publicity stunts. He has been able to move away from the old ways of doing politics i.e. based on the status-quo. And in a way this is welcome development not only for Sabah but also for the politics of the country.