Archive for the ‘Singapore’ Category


As we celebrate the 56th anniversary of our beloved nation, it is time to reflect on the circumstances which led to the formation of Malaysia with Sarawak joining the Malayan states, Sabah and Singapore to give birth to a new federation on Sept 16, 1963.

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Before concluding that the Panama papers are the Holy Grail of global corruption, certain facts must be viewed in perspective – one that the journalists involved in the expose have been careful to articulate but readers may have overlook due to the seductive conclusions big names tend to offer.

The papers are essentially records maintained by a law firm in a tax haven showing how several individuals used its services to set up entities and investment vehicles. Independently, this may not be a crime in several jurisdictions as the journalists have pointed out. But if properly investigated, they may reveal how some of those named might have used the route to evade rather than avoid taxes.

Beyond the fact that the records of one law firm are now out in the open, their disclosure, a remarkable journalistic feat by any measure, must be obvious that neither the presence nor the role of overseas tax havens are exactly a secret. They exist, as they have for a long time, and are used as much for avoidance as they are for straightforward evasion. While the Malaysian government has not been quick to announce a probe, it must view these disclosures in the backdrop of its avowed and largely unfulfilled objective of rooting out black money, especially money salted away overseas. In this context, the response of the Bank Negara Governor has been disappointing.

The ways of Malaysia’s rich and famous are increasingly becoming public knowledge. Prominent Malaysians’s, including one of the prime minister’s sons, Mohd Nazifuddin Mohd Najib, former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir’s son Mirzan Mahathir, even Kamaluddin Abdullah son of another former Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, owning offshore companies in Panama is just the latest of the unraveling, and adding them to the likes of Vladimir Putin, David Cameron, Xi Jinping and Nawaz Sharif among others.

Insofar as Malaysia is concerned, the onus is on tax and enforcement authorities to probe the names and information that have come into the public domain and evaluate these against declarations and filings made by the named individuals before reaching definite conclusions. This exercise must be concluded with urgent despatch, as any delay would in the event of a default deprive the exchequer of revenue. Equally, if the transactions are kosher, a delay would prolong an infamy. The suspicion here is that because of the nebulous nature of tax laws and the frequent amendments made by governments, many of these transactions will fall in the large grey space that almost by design exists between the black and white of the legal framework. In jurisdictions outside Malaysia, especially those where public persons must maintain the highest standards of probity, the revelations are bound to cause upheavals, as indeed they already have in Iceland. They are unlikely though to cause more than momentary discomfort to political figures like Russian President Vladimir Putin or Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, individuals who have in the past brushed aside such charges with disdain.

Panama is a small sliver of a country in Central America joining North and South America. Its immediate geographical neighbors are Costa Rica in the north and Colombia in the south. It is the narrow isthmus that separates the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. A 77 kilometers long manmade canal capable of accommodating large ships joins the two oceans. The revenues from this were for long the nations biggest source of income since the canal opened in 1914.

Panama soon found that becoming a tax haven that assured investors of their privacy provided a more lucrative income. The proximity to the Americas, and the balmy Caribbean islands, and countries like Colombia with its huge cocaine production and export business, and Latin America’s many kleptomaniac tin pot dictators made Panama even more attractive. Till not long ago after the overthrow of Panama’s General Manuel Noriega the Canal Zone was under the protection of US troops and that too served as an incentive for Americans seeking an offshore tax haven.

Panama as a tax haven offers foreign individuals and businesses little or no tax liability in a fairly politically and economically stable environment. Tax havens also provide little or no financial information to foreign tax authorities. This in short is the reason Panama is so important to our moneyed people who have good reason to hide their real wealth.

This leaves us to ask: Why do the rich want to hide their wealth? Well, simply because they are not as wealthy as they appear to be. And if they honestly declared their true wealth they would not only be liable to pay more income tax but could also open many of them to various charges of corporate fraud and malfeasances that could earn them hefty prison terms. So the income they cannot declare gets hidden in a tax haven. The big bucks are made and salted away.

A good part of this money is round tripped back to Malaysia via nearby Singapore. Not surprisingly in 2015 the top FDI investing countries was Singapore. Singapore is the home of hundreds of corporate entities that act as a pass through for funds being held overseas for Malaysians or Malaysian entities. Singapore is little more than cutouts for monies held in other more distant tax havens like Panama, Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Lichtenstein. The smaller the country the more pliable the officials.

According to Global Financial Integrity, a Washington DC based think-tank; Malaysians were estimated to have illicitly sent out $73 billion in 2015. Where does this money go? Countries like Switzerland that offer banking secrecy usually do not pay any interest on such deposits. So money goes to corporations in tax havens from where they are invested in businesses world over. Ever wondered how many local successful businessmen managed to get so big overseas, so soon?

This is where the Panama’s of the world come in. There was a time when Panama in Malaysia was synonymous with a man’s wide-brimmed straw hat made from the leaves of the Toquilla tropical palm tree. That Panama is long forgotten. Today’s Panama is synonymous with offshore corporations and assured secrecy. The times have changed.


by Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist

COMMENTIf the Government in Putrajaya is truly honest with itself, it will confront the fact that there’s very little sympathy in Sabah and Sarawak on the ground for the security forces apparently battling it out in Lahad Datu. It’s 50 years too late. They might as well pack up and go home and instead recall the Sabah Border Scouts and Sarawak Rangers.

At the same time, the continuing statements from one Jamalul Kiram III, the Manila press, the Philippines Government and Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) on Sabah and Sarawak are being viewed in the right perspective.

Local political parties in Sabah and Sarawak are convinced, like the descendants of the heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate and Nur Misuari that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague is the best venue to settle rival claims to the two Borneo nations. Already, the State Reform Party (Star) led by Jeffrey Kitingan, has reportedly included the ICJ option in their draft Manifesto for the forthcoming 13th General Election.

The ICJ is also the best venue to address the fact that Singapore was expelled in 1965 from the Federation of Malaysia by unconstitutional, unlawful and illegal means. It’s an open secret that then Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman had the doors of Parliament locked until the MPs agreed to the expulsion of the city state from the Federation.

The general consensus across both sides of the Sulu Sea is that the Sabah/Sarawak issue will not go away unless there’s a final resolution one way or another. In the absence of a final resolution, the security of both Sabah and Sarawak will continue to be compromised and thereby affect investor and consumer confidence.  

Singapore Application would be a continuation of Pulau Batu Putih case

If Singapore is featured as well at the same time that the cases of Sabah and Sarawak are considered, it would amount to a revisitation of the Pulau Batu Putih hearings which saw the island of a few rocks being awarded to the city state.

The Singapore Application could be made by the Government of that island or vide a Class Action Suit commenced by concerned citizens seeking closure on an issue which has bedevilled relations on both sides of the causeway since 1965.

The descendants of the nine heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate claim that they have private property rights to Sabah or parts of it. They further claim and/or used to claim that sovereignty over Sabah rests with the Philippines Government. This is a grey area since one Sulu Sultan apparently “transferred” his sultanate’s sovereignty over Sabah to the Manila Government by way of a Power of Attorney which has reportedly since expired.

Jamalul Kiram III claims to be Sultan of Sulu.

Sulu claimants, Nur Misuari don’t have a leg to stand on in Sabah, Sarawak

At last count there were some 60 claimants to the Sulu Sultanship, not all being descendants of the nine heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate.

The nine Plaintiffs viz. Dayang Dayang Piandao Kiram, Princess Tarhata Kiram, Princess Sakinur Kiram, Sultan Ismael Kiram, Sultan Punjungan Kiram, Sitti Rada Kiram, Sitti Jahara Kiram, Sitti Mariam Kiram and Mora Napsa were recognised by C. F. Mackasie, Chief Judge of Borneo, on 13 Dec, 1939 in response to Civil Suit No. 169/39.

The Judge ruled that the nine heirs, as the beneficiaries under the will of the late Sultan Jamalul Kiram, who died at Jolo on 7 June 1935, are entitled to collect a total of RM 5,300 per annum from Sabah in perpetuity for having foregone in perpetuity the right to collect tolls along the waterways in eastern Sabah. The reference point was the deed of cession made between the Sultan of Sulu and the predecessors of the British North Borneo Chartered Company on Jan 22, 1878, and under a confirmatory deed dated April 22, 1903.

If the descendants of the nine heirs end up at the ICJ in The Hague, there are no prizes for guessing which way the case will go.

The Sulu claimants don’t have a leg to stand on in Sabah.

Nur Misuari ready to do battle with a battery of lawyers

The Sulu Sultans of old were extorting tolls, virtually a criminal activity, from the terrified traffic along the eastern seaboard of Sabah. The Brunei Sultanate meanwhile denies ever handing any part of Sabah, or the right to collect tolls along the waterways, to Sulu.

The British North Borneo Chartered Company had no right whatsoever to enter into negotiations on behalf of the people of Sabah with anyone.

The entire land area of Sabah, by history, Adat and under Native Customary Rights (NCR), belonged to the Orang Asal (Original People) of the Territory.

The sovereignty of Sabah rests with the people of Sabah. This sovereignty was re-affirmed on 31 Aug, 1963 when the state won independence from Britain which had occupied the state after World War II. Therein the matter lies. The sovereignty of Sabah had never been transferred to Brunei, Sulu, the Philippines, Britain or Malaya, masquerading as Malaysia since 16 Sept, 1963.

Likewise, Sarawak’s independence was re-affirmed on 22 July, 1963 when the British left. Sarawak had been an independent country for over 150 years under its own Rajah until World War II intervened and the Japanese occupied the country. The war over, the British coerced the Rajah to hand over his country to the Colonial Office in London because they had plans to form the Federation of Malaysia with Sarawak as one of the constituent elements. British occupation of Sarawak was illegal and an act of piracy.

Nur Misuari claims that Sarawak had belonged to his family, from the time of his great great grandfather. He claims that he has the services of the best lawyers at his disposal to make his case at The Hague.

Cobbold Commission a scam by British and Malayan Governments

The outcome of any hearing at The Hague will be a forgone conclusion: the Sulu and Nur Misuari petitions will be struck out without even a hearing; the Court will rule that the people of Sabah and Sarawak never agreed to be in Malaysia; and Singapore will hear that its expulsion from Malaysia in 1965 was unconstitutional, unlawful and illegal. The people of Sabah and Sarawak must be given the right to intervene in the Applications at the ICJ which will determine their fate. There’s nothing to prevent the people of Sulu and the southern Philippines from throwing in an Application that the Philippines Government has no business to occupy their traditional Muslim homeland.

The people of Singapore decided in a Yes or Note Vote in 1962 to the idea of independence through merger with Malaya via the Federation of Malaysia. The inclusion of Orang Asal-majority Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei was to facilitate the merger between Chinese-majority Singapore and non-Malay majority Malaya.

Brunei stayed out of Malaysia at the 11th hour after an armed rebellion in the Sultanate against the idea of Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei being in Malaysia.

No Referendum was held in Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and Malaya on Malaysia. The Kelantan Government even took the matter to Court.

A sampling of community leaders conducted by the Cobbold Commission found that only the Suluk and Bajau community leaders, perhaps sensing some personal benefits for themselves as proxies of Muslim-controlled Kuala Lumpur, agreed with the idea of Malaysia.

Revolution another possibility to finish off Sulu, Nur Misuari, Manila

Orang Asal community leaders wanted a period of independence before looking at the idea of Malaysia again. They asked for further and better particulars on Malaysia to be used as the reference point for a future re-visitation of the Malaysia Concept. They were not provided these further and better particulars.

The Chinese community leaders, keeping the eventual fate of the resources and revenues of the country uppermost in mind, totally rejected the idea of Malaysia. They were not wrong. Putrajaya today carts away all the resources and revenues of Sabah and Sarawak to Malaya and very little of it comes back to the two Borneo.

The Cobbold Commission disingenuously declared that two third of the people in Sabah i.e. Suluk/Bajau + Orang Asal supported Malaysia. The Commission made the same declaration in Sarawak where only the Sarawak Malay community leaders supported the idea of Malaysia for self-serving reasons.

When Singapore was expelled from Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak – the facilitators of the merger between Singapore and Malaya – were not allowed to exit the Federation. This is a crucial point which will feature at the ICJ.

Security became an afterthought. But as the continuing influx of illegal immigrants into Sabah and Sarawak, and the Lahad Datu intrusion, has proven, there has been no security for both Borneo nations in Malaysia. ESSCOM (Eastern Sabah Security Command) and ESSZONE (Eastern Sabah Safety Zone) comes too little too late, after 50 years.

In the unlikely event that the ICJ rules in favour of the heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate and Nur Misuari, it would be the sacred duty of Sabahans and Sarawakians to launch a Revolution and decapitate all the claimants to their countries from the Philippines.

This would bury the issue once and for all and shut up the Manila press and the Philippines Government.

Singapore’s re-admission to Malaysia, if it materialises, would not persuade Sabah and Sarawak to join the Federation as well. The people would want Malaya even quicker out Sabah and Sarawak. It would be the end of a long drawn out nightmare.

 

Joe Fernandez is a graduate mature student of law and an educationist, among others, who loves to write especially Submissions for Clients wishing to Act in Person. He feels compelled, as a semi-retired journalist, to put pen to paper — or rather the fingers to the computer keyboard — whenever something doesn’t quite jell with his weltanschauung (worldview). He shuttles between points in the Golden Heart of Borneo formed by the Sabah west coast, Labuan, Brunei, northern Sarawak and the watershed region in Borneo where three nations meet.



No Prime Minister in Malaysia’s history has ever expressed helplessness in facing challenges that have come up during his tenure. No Prime Minister has ever sought refuge in compulsions in dealing with crucial national matters. No Prime Minister has admitted to the failings of his Cabinet colleagues while trying to absolve himself. No Prime Minister has ever tried to correct his image at the expense of his party or his coalition partners. The reason is simple: the buck stops at the Prime Minister’s office.

Over the weekend, rumors were rife that Najib had fallen ill with mild stroke. According to friends from Putrajaya, doctors have been on standby in Pekan where Najib is said to be recuperating. Najib and his wife Rosmah has been under tremendous pressure because of his corruption scandals expecially in connection to the Scorpene submarines and the Altantuya Shaariibuu C4 murder. To make matters worst his Deputy Muhyideen has ganged-up with former Premier Mahathir to oust him as UMNO President and Prime Minister before the 13th GE is held and this is an open secret.

What is his helplessness all about even if he considers it is due to Mahathir’s interference? If Najib is the Prime Minister today is because Najib took over as UMNO President and the country’s 6th Prime Minister after helping Mahathir and Muhyiddin to oust Abdullah Badawi who was blamed for the UMNO-BN’s weak performance in the 2008 elections. Had the Barisan National got a two-third majority in 2008, he would not have been the chosen one. But being Prime Minister is not a license for corruption or inefficiency. If anyone feels as strongly about the evils of interference by the “puppet master”, there is no compulsion of being associated with such politics or the offices it brings along with it.

When the Prime Minister shows he is helpless, is he not letting down the rakyat? Is he showing that he is helpless in serving the poor, who elected his government and have great expectations? The poor would have wanted prices to be in check, corruption within his ministers curbed and the influence of corporate giants contained.

Najib must realize that he is occupying a seat that was once occupied by a great visionary and statesman: Tun Abdul Razak his father, the man who faced many challenges in his life. But he never said he was helpless. The same office was held by humble but strong willed Tun Hussein Onn, acclaimed for his discipline and against all corruption. He was never helpless.

Neither was Tengku Abdul Rahman, a leader whose mass base was astounding and who came to power after getting independence. He was faced with confrontation with Sukarno’s Indonesia, he was faced with political crisis with Lee Kuan Yew and even within Umno he had to face people like Mahathir who was undermining him from inside,including racial riots and the separation of Singapore but did not yield to the pressure of the syndicate. He dug his heels and abolished privy purses. He was never helpless when he even fought the Singapore leaders with all chips down.

Even Abdulah Badawi never displayed helplessness. When his time was up, he just went but did not blame political situations, colleagues and circumstances. But perhaps all these leaders were from the political class and were not there after their tenures in other fields had ended. Perhaps they were made of sterner stuff. But they all realized and respected the fact that Prime Ministers can never show helplessness. If they were then what would happen to the country? If they lose relevance, they go.

Before going public with his limitations, Najib should have stated his piece before Malaysians, who elected Barisan National as its leader and subsequently the Yang Dipertuan Agong endorsed his elevation to the position of the Prime Minister. He must learn from his predecessors and dig in his heels to fight corruption and inefficiency. He must always remember that the buck stops at his doorstep.



HAVING witnessed democracy in action in the form of state assembly elections in Sarawak recently, it is worthwhile looking at what the Sarawak elections had exposed. Political analysts have already made pronouncements about identity politics, that is, the politics of race and community, being pushed to the side by new demands for development. They have pronounced on the virtues of being “with the people” in the manner of Taib Mahmud, the Chief Minister of Sarawak, as opposed to the “parachute politics” of Anwar Ibrahim.

Corruption has been mentioned, but in terms that are not very clear, at least to lay people like myself. Has this exercise in democracy proved that there is widespread anger at the corruption that exists in almost all parts of society, in public bodies and authorities as well as in private entities? From what one can comprehend, the answer is the familiar “yes-and-no” that analysts take shelter behind when faced with a phenomenon they cannot really understand.

The verdict cannot be against corruption in, for example, Sarawak, where the reputation of the ruling Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) and the other Sarawak BN component parties combine is not of its being a group of saints, to put it mildly. For the record, the perception about the party that lost badly, the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) which lost 13 of 19 seats it contested and its President Dr. George Chan Hong Nam, Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak, humiliating defeat in the hands of the DAP, is no better.

In Sarawak, no one will take you seriously if you claim that the Barisan National Sarawak is pure as driven snow; that the losing SUPP was seen as utterly corrupt, which is why it lost; and that the Sarawak BN and Taib Mahmud is responsible for the chopping down of most of Sarawak’s rainforests at the expense of the indigenous communities; and Taib Mahmud was also seen as corrupt and the protector of corrupt allies. The fact is that all of them are seen as corrupt.

Without making any solemn pronouncements on why a party won or lost, or the role played by rebel candidates of all parties in splitting vote banks, one can say with a degree of certainty that a rejection of corruption was not really the main issue in the election. And that is the truly worrying factor in this round of exercise of democracy.

Equally worrying is the sense one gets that the major political parties know this and are not really bothered. They also know, from the look of things, that the public protestation of corruption will never ever amount to anything as far as political power in our system is concerned. The parties strategise their moves and countermoves on the basis of other considerations, which they think to be more effective and relevant. So we can continue to bark corruption, coruption, coruption but nothing is gonna happen and nothing is gonna change, it has not change for the last 50 years.

An article that appeared not so long ago in The Nation cited a study by a group of scholars in the London School of Economics, which said that the comparisons made by various writers and experts between Malaysia and Singapore as emerging economic powers were erroneous; that Malaysia could never hope to be a rival to the economic powerhouse that Singapore already is. One reason given for this is the all-pervasive corruption in Malaysia.

This trend of thinking will in all likelihood catch on, despite brave words from leaders of Barisan National. One can sense it in the way the Malaysian stock market has behaved; in the way the ringgit has got weaker by the day; and in the general gloom among bankers, which they will not admit to publicly but will talk about mainly among themselves. It is not gloom about the immediate future – it is about Malaysia in the long term. It is, finally, about the nature of Malaysian democracy.

There are those who increasingly see signs of fatal flaws in Malaysian democracy because of the way it has developed. Political parties in power, from regional parties to so-called national parties, depend on corruption from the top down to survive, and survival is all that matters. An even more dangerous trend was the failure to improve the education standards.

Malaysia’s failure to provide quality education means that eventually our young men and women will lack the intellectual capabilities, leading to a falling off of quality of work, of skill levels and so on, with its inevitable ill effects on the economy as a whole. But are our politicians who are engaged in the task of survival, interested or concerned?

Eventually, one has to conclude that Malaysian-style democracy and the ills afflicting our economy, our industry, our infrastructure, our health services and our education system will ensure that Malaysia does not become an economic superpower, emerging or otherwise, and that it will have to depend on aid to keep itself going after all the natural resources have depleted. Then, multinational corporations will start to invest in other more lucrative ASEAN countries. Remember, Malaysia’s debts is now a whopping RM0.5 TRILLION.

Now, a lot depends on what young leaders such as Nurul Izzah and others such as Chief Ministers Musa Aman of Sabah and Lim Guan Eng of Penang do. There is little to be gained by looking at any other leader; those who are indeed leaders are either erratic and whimsical, or interested only in lining their pockets. Some like Taib Mahmud although in his twilight may well take Sarawak towards development, but he has to provide proof of that, as Musa Aman has done so admirably.


Written by Lee Kuan Yew

REPRINT My concern today is, what is it I can tell you which can add to your knowledge about aging and what aging societies can do.

You know more about this subject than I do. A lot of it is out in the media, Internet and books. So I thought the best way would be to take a personal standpoint and tell you how I approach this question of aging.

If I cast my mind back, I can see turning points in my physical and mental health.

You know, when you’re young, I didn’t bother, assumed good health was God-given and would always be there.

When I was about 57 that was – I was about 34, we were competing in elections, and I was really fond of drinking beer and smoking.

And after the election campaign, in Victoria Memorial Hall – we had won the election, the City Council election – I couldn’t thank the voters because I had lost my voice. I’d been smoking furiously.

I’d take a packet of 10 to deceive myself, but I’d run through the packet just sitting on the stage, watching the crowd, getting the feeling, the mood before I speak.

In other words, there were three speeches a night. Three speeches a night, 30 cigarettes, a lot of beer after that, and the voice was gone. I remember I had a case in Kuching, Sarawak . So I took the flight and I felt awful. I had to make up my mind whether I was going to be an effective campaigner and a lawyer, in which case I cannot destroy my voice, and I can’t go on.

So I stopped smoking. It was a tremendous deprivation because I was addicted to it. And I used to wake up dreaming…the nightmare was I resumed smoking.

But I made a choice and said, if I continue this, I will not be able to do my job. I didn’t know anything about cancer of the throat, or oesophagus or the lungs, etc.

But it turned out it had many other deleterious effects.

Strangely enough after that, I became very allergic, hyper-allergic to smoking, so much so that I would plead with my Cabinet ministers not to smoke in the Cabinet room.

You want to smoke, please go out, because I am allergic.

Beer belly

Then one day I was at the home of my colleague, Mr Rajaratnam, meeting foreign correspondents including some from the London Times and they took a picture of me and I had a big belly like that (puts his hands in front of his belly), a beer belly.

I felt no, no, this will not do.

So I started playing more golf, hit hundreds of balls on the practice tee.

But this didn’t go down. There was only one way it could go down: consume less, burn up more.

Another turning point came in 1976, after the general election –

I was feeling tired. I was breathing deeply at the Istana, on the lawns.

My daughter, who at that time just graduating as a doctor, said: ‘What are you trying to do?’

I said: ‘I feel an effort to breathe in more oxygen.’ She said: ‘Don’t play golf. Run. Aerobics..’

So she gave me a book, quite a famous book and, then, very current in America on how you score aerobic points swimming, running, whatever it is, cycling.

I looked at it sceptically. I wasn’t very keen on running. I was keen on golf.

So I said, ‘Let’s try’. So in-between golf shots while playing on my own, sometimes nine holes at the Istana, I would try and walk fast between shots.

Then I began to run between shots. And I felt better. After a while, I said: ‘Okay, after my golf, I run.’

And after a few years, I said: ‘Golf takes so long. The running takes 15 minutes. Let’s cut out the golf and let’s run.’

Slower & Sluggish

I think the most important thing in aging is you got to understand yourself.

And the knowledge now is all there. When I was growing up, the knowledge wasn’t there.

I had to get the knowledge from friends, from doctors.

But perhaps the most important bit of knowledge that the doctor gave me was one day, when I said:

‘Look, I’m feeling slower and sluggish.’

So he gave me a medical encyclopaedia and he turned the pages to aging. I read it up and it was illuminating.

A lot of it was difficult jargon but I just skimmed through to get the gist of it.

As you grow, you reach 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and then, thereafter, you are on a gradual slope down physically.

Mentally, you carry on and on and on until I don’t know what age, but mathematicians will tell you that they know their best output is when they’re in their 20s and 30s when your mental energy is powerful and you haven’t lost many neurons. That’s what they tell me.

So, as you acquire more knowledge, you then craft a programme for yourself to maximise what you have. It’s just common sense.

Dad’s DNA

I never planned to live till 85 or 84.! I just didn’t think about it.

I said: ‘Well, my mother died when she was 74, she had a stroke.. My father died when he was 94.’

But I saw him, and he lived a long life, well, maybe it was his DNA.

But more than that, he swam every day and he kept himself busy!

He was working for the Shell company. He was in charge, he was a superintendent of an oil depot.

When he retired, he started becoming a salesman. So people used to tell me: ‘Your father is selling watches at BP de Silva.’ My father was then living with me. But it kept him busy. He had that routine: He meets people, he sells watches, he buys and sells all kinds of semi-precious stones, he circulates coins. And he keeps going. But at 87, 88, he fell, going down the steps from his room to the dining room, broke his arm, three months incapacitated.

Thereafter, he couldn’t go back to swimming. Then he became wheelchair-bound.

Then it became a problem because my house was constructed that way.

So my brother – who’s a doctor and had a flat (one-level) house – took him in.

And he lived on till 94. But towards the end, he had gradual loss of mental powers.

Angiogram

So my calculations, I’m somewhere between 74 and 94. And I’ve reached the halfway point now.

But have I?

Well, 1996 when I was 73, I was cycling and I felt tightening on the neck.

Oh, I must retire today. So I stopped. Next day, I returned to the bicycle.

After five minutes it became worse.

So I said, no, no, this is something serious, it’s got to do with the blood vessels.

Rung up my doctor, who said, ‘Come tomorrow’. Went tomorrow, he checked me, and said: ‘Come back tomorrow for an angiogram.’

I said: ‘What’s that ?’

He said: ‘We’ll pump something in and we’ll see whether the coronary arteries are cleared or blocked.’

I was going to go home.

But an MP who was a cardiologist happened to be around, so he came in and said: ‘What are you doing here?’

I said: ‘I’ve got this.’ He said: ‘Don’t go home.

You stay here tonight. I’ve sent patients home and they never came back.

Just stay here. They’ll put you on the monitor. They’ll watch your heart.

And if anything, an emergency arises, they will take you straight to the theatre.

You go home. You’ve got no such monitor. You may never come back.’

So I stayed there. Pumped in the dye, yes it was blocked, the left circumflex, not the critical, lead one.

So that’s lucky for me. Two weeks later, I was walking around, I felt it’s coming back.

Yes it has come back, it had occluded. So this time they said: ‘We’ll put in a stent.’

I’m one of the first few in Singapore to have the stent, so it was a brand new operation.

Fortunately, the man who invented the stent was out here selling his stent.

He was from San Jose, La Jolla something or the other. So my doctor got hold of him and he supervised the operation.

He said put the stent in. My doctor did the operation, he just watched it all and then that’s that.

That was before all this problem about lining the stent to make sure that it doesn’t occlude and create a disturbance.

New danger points

So at each stage, I learnt something more about myself and I stored that. I said: ‘Oh, this is now a danger point.’

So all right, cut out fats, change diet, went to see a specialist in Boston, Massachusetts General Hospital.

He said: ‘Take statins.’ I said: ‘What’s that?’ He said: ‘(They) help to reduce your cholesterol.’

My doctors were concerned. They said: ‘You don’t need it. Your cholesterol levels are okay.’

Two years later, more medical evidence came out. So the doctors said: ‘Take statins.’

Had there been no angioplasty, had I not known that something was up and I cycled on, I might have gone at 74 like my mother.

So I missed that decline. So next deadline: my father’s fall at 87. I’m very careful now because sometimes when I turn around too fast, I feel as if I’m going to get off balance.

So my daughter, a neurologist, she took me to the NNI, there’s this nerve conduction test, put electrodes here and there.

The transmission of the messages between the feet and the brain has slowed down.

So all the exercise, everything, effort put in, I’m fit, I swim, I cycle.

But I can’t prevent this losing of conductivity of the nerves and this transmission. So just go slow.

So when I climb up the steps, I have no problem.

When I go down the steps, I need to be sure that I’ve got something I can hang on to, just in case.

So it’s a constant process of adjustment.

Worst thing – isolating oneself

But I think the most important single lesson I learnt in life was that if you isolate yourself, you’re done for.

The human being is a social animal – he needs stimuli, he needs to meet people, to catch up with the world.

I don’t much like travel but I travel very frequently despite the jetlag, because I get to meet people of great interest to me, who will help me in my work as Chairman of our GIC.

So I know, I’m on several boards of banks, international advisory boards of banks, of oil companies and so on.

And I meet them and I get to understand what’s happening in the world, what has changed since I was here one month ago, one year ago.

I go to India, I go to China.

And that stimuli brings me to the world of today. I’m not living in the world, when I was active, more active 20, 30 years ago. So I tell my wife.

She woke up late today. I said: ‘Never mind, you come along by 12 o’clock. I go first.’

If you sit back – because part of the ending part of the encyclopaedia which I read was very depressing – as you get old, you withdraw from everything and then all you will have is your bedroom and the photographs and the furniture that you know, and that’s your world.

So if you’ve got to go to hospital, the doctor advises you to bring some photographs so that you’ll know you’re not lost in a different world, that this is like your bedroom.

I’m determined that I will not, as long as I can, to be reduced, to have my horizons closed on me like that.

It is the stimuli, it is the constant interaction with people across the world that keeps me aware and alive to what’s going on and what we can do to adjust to this different world.

In other words, you must have an interest in life.

If you believe that at 55, you’re retiring, you’re going to read books, play golf and drink wine, then I think you’re done for.

So statistically they will show you that all the people who retire and lead sedentary lives, the pensioners die off very quickly.

So we now have a social problem with medical sciences, new procedures, new drugs, many more people are going to live long lives.. ….

If the mindset is that when I reach retirement age 62, I’m old, I can’t work anymore, I don’t have to work, I just sit back, now is the time I’ll enjoy life,

I think you’re making the biggest mistake of your life.

After one month, or after two months, even if you go traveling with nothing to do, with no purpose in life, you will just degrade, you’ll go to seed.

The human being needs a challenge, and my advice to every person in Singapore and elsewhere:

Keep yourself interested, have a challenge.

If you’re not interested in the world and the world is not interested in you, the biggest punishment a man can receive is total isolation in a dungeon, black and complete withdrawal of all stimuli, that’s real torture.

So when I read that people believe, Singaporeans say: ‘Oh, 62 I’m retiring.’ I say to them: ‘You really want to die quickly?’

If you want to see sunrise tomorrow or sunset, you must have a reason, you must have the stimuli to keep going..’

Mailbag


by Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist

COMMENT Pas President Hadi Awang should not have said that only a “Malay” Muslim — probably “determined” by a DNA test a la Pas — will be Prime Minister if and when Pakatan Rakyat (PR) seizes the reins of power in Putrajaya and initiates, forms and leads the Federal Government.

Is he implying that a “Malay” Muslim is not the Prime Minister now and that “Malay” Muslims have never held the post?

What he said is not unlawful in a Court of Law.

However, it’s unconstitutional to say such things and therefore not lawful, and certainly inconsiderate and hurtful of the feelings of the non-“Malays” including Muslims.

Besides, it’s not the done thing to say such things and further alienate, for one, the good people on the other side of the South China Sea who are neither “Malays”, despite speaking Malay, nor for the most part Muslims. Why should Sabah and Sarawak be in Malaysia if they are denied the Prime Minister’s post.

Already, “Malaysians” in Borneo are saying things like that they are not really in Malaysia and claiming that they still retain the self-determination they obtained on 31 Aug 1963 (Sabah) and 22 July 1963 (Sarawak).

They are screaming internal colonisation — caught between the evil extremes of ketuanan Melayu and grinding poverty — and are demanding that the United Nations Security Council step in on Putrajaya’s non-compliance on the four constitutional documents and/or conventions which formed the basis on which they were “persuaded” by the Malayans and British to help form and participate in the Federation of Malaysia viz. the 1963 Malaysia Agreement (MA63); the 20/18 Points (20/18 P); the Inter Governmental Committee Report (IGCR); and the Cobbold Commission Report (CCR).

Perhaps Hadi wants to discontinue the peculiar situation where the Prime Ministers so far have not been “Malay” in his mould and at the same time rule out the possibility of Lim Guan Eng, or “even worse” notorious Islam-baiter Karpal Singh — “an Islamic state over my dead body” — being Prime Minister.

LGE was silly enough to say that the Constitution was “silent” on who could be Prime Minister and thereby kill his chances at the top job.

Does he want to be confined to Penang for the rest of his political life? Doesn’t he want to continue from where Lee Kuan Yew left off after Singapore was kicked out from Malaysia? He should not fear that Penang, like Singapore, will be kicked out as well to thwart his known Prime Ministerial ambitions.

No one can play the same trick thrice.

The first was when West Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, the North West Frontier Province and East Bengal were kicked out from India through partition to prevent Mohd Ali Jinnah becoming the first Prime Minister after independence in 1947.That’s how Jawaharlal Nehru became Prime Minister and went on to build a political dynasty which is still around.

Jinnah died of TB less than a year after Pakistan was created.

Nehru could have waited but he simply couldn’t just like Lee Kuan Yew who was in too much of a hurry. Lee regrets to this day, like Anwar Ibrahim not so long ago, and like the latter keeps kicking himself every day and crying himself to sleep on having lost the chance to be Prime Minister of Malaysia. Lee even promised Donald Stephens of Sabah that he would be Deputy Prime Minister when he became Prime Minister. It seems it was the Tunku’s idea. So, Stephens dropped his opposition to Malaysia.

The Constitution is anything but silent on the issue of the Prime Minister’s post.

LGE should read the Constitution, like a Bible, briefly five times daily if he wants to convince himself that he’s qualified to be Prime Minister. Penang should not be in Malaysia if its Chief Minister is disqualified from gunning for the top political job in the country on the dubious grounds of race and religion. If LGE can’t be Prime Minister of Malaysia, even though qualified and eligible, should he “go back” to China to be one?

Why didn’t Hadi give the name of the person who will be his candidate for the PM’s post?

Is Anwar Ibrahim finally out of the picture at PR because he’s not really “Malay” at all given his Tamil Hindu grandfather?

That means Anwar will have to “go back” to Tamil Nadu to be Chief Minister and from there wrest the job of Prime Minister of India away from Manmohan Singh. Probably, he will have some competition here from Karpal Singh. In India, one will not be denied the Prime Minister’s job on the grounds of being from a minority. Jinnah was just unfortunate to run into Nehru.

Again, why “Malay” Muslim?

Are there “Malays” in Malaysia who are not Muslim?

Is this also a broader Hadi reference and “safeguard” against the non-Muslims in Umno’s “Rumpun Melayu” (Malay Group) theory under which every Tom, Dick and Harry — from Bugis and Suluk to Dusun, Dayak to Acehnese — on the islands of south east Asia is “Malay”, becoming Prime Minister? Where does the Orang Asli fit in?

Why didn’t Hadi just say “Malay”?

Is the term “Malay” Muslim being used to rule out Muslims like Mahathir Mohamad who came from Kerala, southwest India and denied Tengku Razaleigh, a “Malay” in Hadi’s mould, the Prime Minister’s job not once but twice.

Mahathir went on to become the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia by default and, by sheer cunning, still managed to cling onto the post even after it was discovered in Court by a “Malay” Judge from Kerala that he actually lost the 1987 Umno presidential elections but sneaked in votes from 30 illegal branches to “win” by 43 votes. The Judge, a Malayalee backing another Malayalee, refused to discount the illegal votes and award Razaleigh the Umno presidency.

Hadi’s statement means that Tunku Abdul Rahman, whose mother was Thai and from across the border, was not “Malay”.

Also, Tun Abdul Razak (Bugis); Hussein Onn (more Turk than anything else); Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Chinese on one side and Arab on the other side); and Najib (Razak’s son) were all not “Malays” in Hadi’s mould, even though Malay-speaking, and therefore cannot be forgiven.

Who are these “Malays” which Hadi keeps referring to? Will the term under PR exclude people who are not “Malay” like the Bugis, Javanese — think Khir Toyo — Minang, Acehnese etc but use Malay as their lingua franca and are considered “Malay” by Umno which is also infested with Indian Muslims?

Why not say Muslim since Hadi said they — obviously including the “secret Malay Christians” — form the single biggest group in Malaysia?

Why are the Orang Asli, Dusuns, Muruts and Dayaks — the real Natives of Malaysia — being denied a shot at the PM’s post under the Hadi formula by the emphasis on the candidate being Muslim?

Jeffrey Kitingan — “why can’t a Sabahan be Prime Minister?” — must be crying himself to sleep every night in the cold of Tambunan in the high country over Hadi’s statement. It’s an open secret in Sabah that Jeffrey wants to be Prime Minister when a hung Parliament materialises as he expects after the 13th General Election and the 3rd Force comes marching in.

In London, Kelantan-born Hindraf Makkal Sakthi supremo P. Waythamoorthy must be fuming mad with Hadi. He must be planning to go to Court to get the Pas President legally certified as insane.

It’s the King who decides who will be PM — unless Nik Aziz by some miracle becomes King — and he will have to pick a person wiho is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members in the Dewan Rakyat.

That person must of course be a Malaysian citizen who is not bankrupt or has not been certified legally insane by a Court of Law.

Preferably, the Prime Minister-designate should not — “this is not in the Constitution” — be suspected of having skeletons in the cupboard like being on the take, being on crack, hitting the bottle every night, having blood on the hands, sleeping around, being chased by a C4 ghost every night or cannot avoid creating situations in Court casting doubt on his sense of moral values.

Since Hadi mentioned “Malay” Muslim, let’s consider Native status in Malaysia lest he’s under some delusion that his “Malay” Muslims are Natives.

The Principle of Law in determining Native status is that Natives are the 1st people in a defined geopraphical area, we don’t know where they came from, & this is the only place where they can be found.

Of course, it’s not really necessary to have all the criteria as in the case of the Native Indians — we know where they came from — in America.

The 1st criteria would suffice and is a pre-requisite.

So, that’s why the Federal Contitution does not state that the Malay-speaking communities in Peninsular Malaysia — they are actually Bugis, Javanese, Minang, Acehnese and the like — are Natives.

So, the Thai in Tunku Abdul Rahman coined the term Bumiputera (sons of the soil) as an umbrella term to include the Malay-speaking communities along with the true Natives viz. the Orang Asli, Dusuns, Muruts & Dayaks.

The Constitution, reflecting Umno’s philosophy, defines all “Malays” as Muslims but that does not mean all Muslims are “Malays”.

There’s no Principle of Law on all Muslims being “Malays.”

So, Indian Muslims like Mahathir for example are wrong when they claim to be “Malays”, & by extension, Bumiputera.

Example: if all Pakistanis are stupid, does it mean that all stupid people are Pakistanis?

Similarly, it cannot be said that all Muslims are “Malays”, & by extension, Bumiputera.

Since the Malay-speaking communities are not the Natives of Peninsular M’sia, they cannot come under the umbrella term Bumiputera either and should not claim to have a divine monopoly on the Prime Minister’s post.

The Malay-speaking communities, whether Muslim or otherwise, should not deny others especially the Natives, the Prime Minister’s post.

There is a Malay language, which historically began as a dialect in Cambodia, and was developed by the Hindus and Buddhists to emerge as the lingua franca of the Archipelago for missionary work and religion, education, trade and administration. That’s how the Malay language became the basis for the development of a national language in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia with the departure of the colonialists.

The “Malay” in the Malay Archipelago refers to the language and not any race.

There is no such thing as a “Malay” race despite what Hadi thinks or a “Malay” Group (Rumpun Melayu) as Umno likes to claim. Indonesia — Indos Nesos or Indian Islands in Greek — would never agree with the Rumpun “Melayu” theory.

“Malay” Nationalism is a concept created in Singapore by Muslims from Kerala to rally support against Chinese economic domination. The Origin of Malay Nationalism by Professor William Roff refers.

DNA studies show that all the people of southeast Asia are from a common stock.

They are descended from the Dravidians — archaic (old) Caucasoids — who made their way from south India, along the coast, to south China and Taiwan and mated with the Mongolian tribes living there.

We should cross the bridge on the Prime Minister’s post rather than delude ourself into wishful thinking, living on hope and fairy tales to convince the King in defiance of the Federal Constitution.


There has been some surprising news recently by WikiLeaks.

First is the WikiLeaks story of what Singaporean top diplomats, the former permanent secretary at Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, Peter Ho, and the present permanent secretary Bilahari Kausikan, commented during Singaporean diplomats’ meeting with senior US Deputy Secretary of Defence for East Asia David Sedney, that Premier Najib had links to the murder of the Mongolian beauty Altantuya Shaariibuu@ Aminah in 2006.

In the same meeting Peter Ho also said Premier Najib Razak as “an opportunist” and there is a lack of competent leadership in Malaysia. And Bilahari adds to say that, the situation in Malaysia is confused and dangerous and there is a possibility of racial conflict that could see Chinese “flee” Malaysia and “overwhelm” Singapore.

Second interesting WikiLeaks story is about how Singapore former Premier Lee Kuan Yew and Singapore Special Branch had intercepted communications and have found out that Anwar Ibrahim had actually sodomised Saiful in a honey trap set by some of Anwar’s enemies. In this story, Lee Kuan Yew told ONA (Office of National Assessments) that Anwar did indeed commit the sodomy and he Lee Kuan Yew had reached his conclusion based on “technical intelligence,” which he got via intercepted communications.

WikiLeaks the whistle-blower exclusively leaked these stories to Australia’s Fairfax Media Group and the Australian newspapers had a field day carrying the contents of the cables the last few days.

Singapore says it is shocked by the contents. But is it true they are shocked? If that’s true, they must be the only ones shocked. Most of what’s in these cables has already been thoroughly discussed by the general public in Malaysia.

There is no doubt that WikiLeaks serves a genuine need and a valuable purpose. WikiLeaks claim that they are bringing important news and information to the public and publishing “material of ethical, political and historical significance” and “providing a universal way for the revealing of suppressed and uncensored injustices,” is really true in the Malaysian contexts. If we were privy to the day-to-day uncensored thoughts of any organization, or even any family, the results would make a great soap opera – but like most soaps its for washing dirt.

I agree that private conversations and back-room dealings can be interesting. I would love to have been a fly on the wall when Saiful was bonking the DPP lady, or the AG bonking his director of international affairs lady, Najib and Saiful were having a heart-felt talk about Anwar and his prick – when Mahathir and his comrades were strategizing over Pak Lah and Khairy – when Najib and his Rosmah were discussing Altantuya and Submarine. Most things are done behind closed doors until it gets leaked by a FLY.

While Singapore may have said some embarrassing (but not necessarily untrue) things about Malaysia, I’m sure Malaysia have said equally impolite, if not worse, things about Singapore within the confines of our own borders and embassies. I would not be surprised if a Malaysian diplomat had made an unkind comment about Lee Kuan Yew, if a Malaysian diplomat had made an impatient remark about the little red dot, Singapore, cheating us in the water deal, etc, etc,.

While the majority of these leaks may have been diplomatic chit-chat, WikiLeaks promises to expose more information and of a more secretive nature. In the midst of the uproar, WikiLeaks’s purpose – beyond causing havoc and possibly supplying valuable information to unfriendly parties, all in the name of fighting injustice – is always clear. Besides all classified or private information is an injustice in the making.

I wonder if we could re-direct Wikileaks’s energies. For example, what may be really helpful to Malaysia as a whole is if WikiLeaks could hack into and make public the communications of Premier Najib and UMNO, planning violence if Barisan Nation loses power in the 13 General Election. Maybe WikiLeaks could also reveal the ambitions of some of the less transparent and more unstable Ibrahim Ali’s Perkasa, which would indeed be a revelation. And here in Malaysia, wouldn’t it be nice to know who are the most corrupt politicians and the value of their Swiss bank account holdings or which Minister raped his Indonesian maid?

Even if we haven’t learnt a lot from the latest set of WikiLeaks releases, one lesson is becoming increasing clear. Be careful what you email your buddy about your affair with your secretary, what you email your wife about how great last night’s play was, what you email your friend about your sexual fantasy. Someone may be hacking you.

Thanks to the effort of WikiLeaks. Those who favour openness, accountability, liberty and equality in state actions call this as the first bold step towards establishing true democratisation of information. Those who got exposed, embarrassed and were dragged into the spotlight have termed it ‘irresponsible’ and ‘criminal’. It requires no explanation to understand who stays at what side of the fence.

Question is what is in fact criminal; engaging in espionage and violating international laws, criminal conspiracy, Cabinet Minister raping Indonesian maids and then covering it up, using C4 to dispose evidence, putting fear of violence or exposing such criminal acts?

Maybe you guys should read here and here to guess which Minister raped his Indonesian maid, compliments from Julian Assange.

And is she the one?


We the citizens of Singapore, residents in Singapore and concerned individuals from the international community humbly put forward our plea of clemency for Yong Vui Kong, a Malaysian who has been sentenced to death by the High Court of Singapore for trafficking 47 grammes of heroin. Yong was 19 years old at the time of offence. He currently faces impending execution.

You can read the rest of the petition HERE.

You can also read my earlier article on Yong Vui Fong HERE


Yong Vui Kong a 22 year old boy from Sabah was caught in Singapore with 47.27 grams of heroin. He was only 19 years old when caught on 13th June 2007. He has been locked up in Changi Prison for the past 3 years. He is now waiting to be executed anytime as all appeals have been rejected after the court pronounced hanging by death on 7th January 2009, under Section 5(1)(a)Dangerous Drug Act.

Yong comes from a broken family and when he was 3 yeas old his parents divorced, the mother is a mental patient. Yong worked in an oil palm estate in Sabah when only 7 years old and could not afford to go to school. When 9, Yong came to Kuala Lumpur and worked as dishwasher in a restaurant but was abused and tortured and left the job for Singapore. In Singapore, Yong was paddling in illegal VCD’s and came in contact with drug dealer Ah Beng the Taiko.Then one Wednesday, on 13th June 2007, Yong got caught with 47 grams of heroin, when he was asked to deliver the drug by Ah Beng The Taiko.

The rest is history.

A poor young boy got caught in the wrong company, was in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing…

22 year old Yong Vui Kong a Malaysian, could be anyone or everyone.

WHY is Malaysia not intervening in this case of young Yong Vui Kong on death row in Singapore?  Why? Is it is because he is Chinese? Is it because he is Sabahan? I hope not!

But, in the past, Malaysia has  intervened in cases outside the country, the case of a young university science graduate Umi Azlim Mohamad Lazim, 24. Remember? This was in China in 2008 where Umi who was charged with the death penalty for having 2.9 kilograms of heroin in her luggage. Umno and PAS actively campaigned to free Umi, and Umi’s death sentence was actually commute to life when the Malaysian government intervened.

So, why is the Malaysian government not doing anything to help Yong?

See this video…

Read also here

Lets ALL Pray For Yong Vui Kong! He needs our prayers!